Recognized for her innate musicality, compelling presence, and technical precision, Chinese-born conductor Sunny Xuecong Xia’s ability to forge an immediate and captivating connection with orchestras and audiences alike has led to engagements around the country. Recently appointed Douglas F. King Assistant Conductor of the Seattle Symphony, Xia begins her new position in September 2022. As Assistant Conductor, she will contribute to Seattle Symphony’s Education and Community Engagement programs, conduct the Family Concerts, as well as serve as cover conductor for subscription concerts throughout her appointment.
In the 2021/2022 season, Xia was selected as Conducting Fellow at the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, where she made her festival debut leading the world premiere of Marc Migó Cortés' Dumka in July 2022. She led a production of La bohème with the Chandler Opera Company to great success and appeared with double bassist Xavier Foley and violinist Eunice Kim in Foley’s poignant work For Justice and Peace at Mesa Arts Center. Additional engagements included Assistant Conductor of the Phoenix Youth Symphony Orchestra and Cover Conductor for Arizona Musicfest. In the 2020/2021 season, she appeared as guest conductor with the MusicaNova Orchestra and was invited to serve as Assistant Conductor at the National Music Festival and Pierre Monteux Music Festival.
A dynamic advocate for contemporary music, Xia will be leading the Seattle Symphony in works by composers Katy Abbott, Tan Dun, Quinn Mason, Angelique Poteat, Gabriella Smith, and Chen Yi in the 2022/2023 season. She has previously led the Cleveland Institute of Music New Music Ensemble in music series such as the Cleveland NEOSonicFest and CIM New Music Series. She has several world premieres under her credit, including Rodney Rogers’ Concerto for Violin and String Orchestra with violinist Christiano Rodrigues and the MusicaNova Orchestra. She served as a Conducting Fellow in the 2020 Cortona Sessions for New Music Conductor and Advocate Virtual Summit.
Equally at home and in the opera pit, prior to leading La bohème with the Chandler Opera Company, Xia has served as assistant conductor for productions of Hänsel und Gretel, Die Zauberflöte, The Juniper Tree, Le Rossignol and L’Enfant et les Sortilèges. Dedicated to bringing music to the community, while in Cleveland, Xia organized and led concerts in retirement communities and elementary schools, including an interactive presentation of Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf in East Cleveland for an audience of 4th and 5th graders.
Highlights of the 2019-20 season include being selected by Marin Alsop as a Conducting Fellow in the Peabody Conducting Workshop, appointment as Apprentice Conductor at the North American New Opera Workshop (NANOWorks) and serving as Cover Conductor for the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra. Additionally, she led the Cleveland Institute of Music Orchestra in the 2019 Benefit Concert “A Legacy in Bloom: Celebrating Clara T. Rankin” with violinist Caroline Goulding.
Xia holds a dual master’s degree in Orchestral Conducting and Violin Performance from the Cleveland Institute of Music where she studied under the tutelage of Carl Topilow and Jan Mark Sloman. She is currently a doctoral candidate at Arizona State University where she studied under the guidance of Dr. Jeffery Meyer and Tito Muñoz. She has had the privilege to be further mentored by a number of prominent conductors, including Marin Alsop, JoAnn Falleta, Giancarlo Guerrero, Ludovic Morlot, Larry Rachleff, and Carl St.Clair. For two summers, she attended the Monteux School and Music Festival as a Kurt & Torj Wray Conducting Scholar. An accomplished violinist, prior to becoming a conductor, Xia performed as a soloist with orchestras in China and Australia, including the symphony orchestras of Harbin, Zheijiang, Hunan and Guangxi, and the Concertante Ensemble. While attending Cleveland Institute of music, she served as concertmaster of the CIM Orchestra.
Originally from Guangzhou, China, Xia relocated to Sydney, Australia at the age of 14 on a sponsorship from the Australian String Academy that allowed her to further her violin studies with Peter Shi-xiang Zhang and Charmian Gadd. A talented basketball athlete, she competed in the semi-professional New South Wales Metro Junior League before focusing primarily on her musical pursuits. When not performing or enjoying a pick-up game, she can be found reading, kayaking, or learning languages. She speaks Cantonese, English, Mandarin and Teochew, and is improving her German, French and Italian.