Jindong Cai, Music Director and Conductor

Jindong Cai

Jindong Cai joined the Stanford faculty in 2004 as the first holder of the Gretchen B. Kimball Director of Orchestral Studies Chair. He has held positions as assistant conductor with the Cincinnati Symphony and the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, working closely with conductors Jésus López-Cobos, Erich Kunzel, and Keith Lockhart. He led the Cincinnati Philharmonia Orchestra on a successful concert tour to Portugal, the only American orchestra invited to participate in the Cultural Festival of World Expo 1998 in Lisbon. He has also served on the faculties at Louisiana State University, the University of Arizona, the University of California at Berkeley, and the College-Conservatory of Music in Cincinnati.

Mr. Cai has received much critical acclaim for his orchestral and opera performances. In 1992, his opera conducting debut took place at Lincoln Center's Mozart Bicentennial Festival in New York, when he appeared as a last minute substitute for the world premiere of a new production of Mozart's Zaide. The New York Times described the performance as "one of the more compelling experiences so far offered in the festival." Mr. Cai has guest conducted the Arkansas Symphony, the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, the Cincinnati Symphony, the Louisiana Philharmonic, the Lexington Philharmonic, the Northwest Chamber Orchestra, and the Tucson Symphony, among others.

Mr. Cai maintains strong ties to his homeland and guest conducts several top orchestras in China including the China National Broadcasting Symphony, the National Opera and Ballet Theater of China, the Shanghai Symphony, and the Shanghai Broadcasting Symphony. In 1997, he conducted the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra in the Chinese premiere of John Corigliano's Symphony No. 1 - the first major contemporary American work ever performed in that country.

Mr. Cai has twice won the ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming of Contemporary Music. He has recorded for Centaur Records and Vienna Modern Masters. His recording with the Cincinnati Philharmonia Orchestra, which contains music by William Grant Still and other African-American composers, was reviewed as "a startling album, both for its professionalism and its sonic excellence" and was widely broadcast on National Public Radio.

Born in Beijing, Mr. Cai received his early musical training in China, where he learned to play the violin and piano. He came to the United States in 1985 and did 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.

Together with his wife, Sheila Melvin, Mr. Cai has co-authored several New York Times articles on the performing arts in China and a new book, Rhapsody in Red: How Western Classical Music Became Chinese.


  • Jindong Cai