Recognized for her innate musicality, compelling presence, and technical precision, 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. In January 2020. she made her successful debut with the Cleveland Women’s Orchestra. She was invited to serve as Assistant Conductor at the 2020 National Music Festival in Maryland and the Monteux School and Music Festival in Maine, positions postponed until the 2021 season due to COVID-19. In August 2020, she begins a new post as Assistant Conductor of Arizona State University (ASU) Symphony Orchestra while pursuing a doctorate in Orchestral Conducting.
Highlights of the 2019-20 season include being selected by Marin Alsop as one of eight Conducting Fellows in the Peabody Conducting Workshop. Sunny was also appointed Apprentice Conductor at the North American New Opera Workshop (NANOWorks) and served as Cover Conductor for the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra and Firelands Symphony Orchestra. Chosen from a pool of 75 first-round competitors, she was one of ten semifinalists in the NRTA Conducting Competition in Tirana, Albania. 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.
As Assistant Conductor of the Cleveland Institute of Music Opera Theater from 2017 to 2020, Sunny assisted Maestro Harry Davidson in productions of Die Zauberflöte, The Juniper Tree, Le Rossignol, and L’Enfant et les Sortilèges. A dynamic advocate for contemporary music, she has led the CIM New Music Ensemble in music series such as the Cleveland NEOSonicFest, CIM New Music Series, and Cleveland Museum of Art Performing Arts Series. She also served as a Conducting Fellow in the 2020 Cortona Sessions for the New Music Conductor and Advocate Virtual Summit.
Dedicated to bringing music to unconventional and diverse locations, while in Cleveland, Sunny 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. She serves as a Region Director of the “Back to Bach” Project, a volunteer-run organization that seeks to enrich primary education with music and the arts.
Sunny 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 has had the privilege to be mentored by a number of prominent conductors, including Marin Alsop, JoAnn Falleta, Kenneth Kiesler, Ludovic Morlot, Robert Spano and Thomas Wilkins. For two summer, she attended the Monteux School and Music Festival as a Kurt & Torj Wray Conducting Scholar. An accomplished violinist, prior to becoming a conductor, Sunny 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, Sunny 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, Sunny can be found reading, kayaking, or learning languages. She speaks Cantonese, English, German, Mandarin and Teochew, and is improving her French and Italian.