Jindong Cai


Jindong Cai is an orchestra conductor and a professor of performance at Stanford University. Over the 20 years of his career in the United States, he has established himself as an active and dynamic conductor, scholar of Western classical music in China, and leading advocate of music from across Asia.

Mr. Cai started his professional conducting career with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. He has served as the Principal Guest Conductor of the China Shenzhen Symphony Orchestra since 2012, and is also the Principal Guest Conductor of the Mongolia State Academic Theater of Opera and Ballet in Ulaan Baatar. He joined the Stanford University faculty in 2004 as Director of Orchestral Studies, conducted the Stanford Symphony Orchestra for 12 years, and is also the founder and artistic director of the Stanford Pan-Asian Music Festival. He made his operatic conducting debut at Lincoln Center’s Mozart Bicentennial Festival, when he appeared as a last-minute substitute for his mentor Gerhard Samuel in the world premiere of a new production of Mozart’s Zaide.

Mr. Cai is a three-time recipient of the ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming of Contemporary Music, and has recorded for the Centaur, Innova, and Vienna Modern Masters labels. He has collaborated with many Chinese composers and has premiered or performed new works by Tan Dun, Zhou Long, Chen Yi, Bright Sheng, Ye Xiaogang, Ye Guohui, and Wang Xilin, among others. Together with his wife, Sheila Melvin, he co-authored Rhapsody in Red: How Western Classical Music Became Chinese and Beethoven in China, How the Great Composer Became an Icon in the People’s Republic.

Born in Beijing, Mr. Cai received his early musical training in China and came to the United States for his graduate studies at the New England Conservatory and the College-Conservatory of Music in Cincinnati. In 1989, he was selected to study with famed conductor Leonard Bernstein at the Tanglewood Music Center, and won the Conducting Fellowship Award at the Aspen Music Festival in 1990 and 1992.

Jindong Cai conducted The Orchestra Now on January 25 & 26, 2020; October 1 & 6, 2019; October 19, 21, & 22, 2018; January 28, 2018; and November 19 & 20, 2016.