conductor | composer
San Francisco-based conductor and composer, Jaco Wong embraces his American education while being deeply rooted in his Hong Kong upbringing. In addition to his diverse interest in repertoire ranging from symphonic, operatic, choral to contemporary music, jazz and pop, Wong pushes boundaries of the traditional concert music setting with multidisciplinary projects and innovative ways of exploring topics of science, philosophy, and culture.
Wong currently serves as the assistant conductor at Oakland Symphony, where he assisted Mei-Ann Chen, Leonard Slatkin, Joseph Young, among others, and made his professional orchestra conducting debut at the Michael Morgan Memorial Concert. Under the guidance of Yannick Nézet-Séguin and Kensho Watanabe, Wong made his Canada debut conducting the Orchestre symphonique de Québec at Domaine Forget de Charlevoix. Wong has conducted at Mercury Soul, a DJ/ classical music event by Mason Bates, assisted Teddy Abrams at Louisville Orchestra’s season finale and Edwin Outwater at the Dr. Phillips Center Steinmetz Hall Opening Celebration, with notable artists including the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Jennifer Hudson.
Wong has served as assistant conductor for Festival Opera and Prague Summer Nights Music Festival, and will make his conducting debut with Opera Parallèle premiering Kenji Oh’s The Emissary as their associate conductor. During Wong’s 6-year tenure as the music director of Pacific Palisades Presbyterian Church, he has directed Handel’s Messiah, Caroline Shaw’s To the Hands, and many other works. Other career highlights include conducting the Taipei Philharmonic, a recording session for Emmy Award-winning composer Jeremy Zuckerman, and participating in the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music as a conducting associate and Monteux Music Festival in New York City.
Featured on SF Classical Voice and will be performed in New World Symphony’s “By Ear: A Journey into Musical Perception”, Wong’s composition Inkling is a multimedia orchestra work with fixed electronics in collaboration with animation artist Evan Tedlock, University of Maryland Baltimore County, and neuroscientist Enrique Vargas, UCSF Sound & Music Perception Lab, premiered at Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture. Commissioned for an interactive installation, Psithaura is a finalist of the American Prize in composition, which has been performed in more than 4 countries and 7 cities, including under the baton of Donald Nally at the Northwestern University New-Music Conference. Wong has previously composed for San Jose Chamber Orchestra, LA Choral Lab’s GPS-enabled Soundwalk, Iris Contemporary Dance Company, Bill T. Jones, Hocket piano duo, Lang Lang, and the Shenzhen Symphony Orchestra. Wong’s music is published by See-A-Dot Music Inc.
As an active educator, Wong serves as the Instrumental Music Director of the Harker School, leading its Orchestra to perform in Carnegie Hall and Jazz Band to the Essentially Ellington Festival organized by Jazz at Lincoln Center. Wong is also the resident conductor of the Great Wall Youth Chinese Orchestra, projects including collaboration with pianist Lara Downes in Rhapsody in Blue @ 100 American Kaleidoscope. Wong is the former choral director and musical vocal director of Palisades Charter High School, and has prepared the Esperanza Azteca Youth Chorus to perform with Placido Domingo.
Wong holds a Professional Studies Certificate in Orchestral Conducting from San Francisco Conservatory of Music and a double Master's degree in Music Composition and Choral Conducting from University of Southern California, where he was the recipient of Morten Lauridsen Endowed Scholarship. He also attended a Summer Study Abroad in Paris by Eastman School of Music and IRCAM.