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Josten Alum Elim Chan ’09 Debuts at New York Philharmonic


Elim Chan at the New York Philharmonic

Elim Chan at the New York Philharmonic on Thursday, March 7, 2024. 
Photos by Chris Lee for the New York Times.

Published March 19, 2024

On Saturday, March 9, the Smith College Department of Music, with support from the Office of Student Engagement, sponsored a bus trip with more than 50 members of the campus community to New York City to watch world-renowned conductor and Smith College alum Elim Chan ’09 make her debut at the New York Philharmonic.

Chan, who is the first and only woman to win the esteemed Donatella Flick Conducting Competition, paid a visit to Smith College en route to her NY Phil debut, as her roots with Smith have significantly influenced her career as a conductor. In past conversations, Chan has attributed her “many hours” spent in Josten Performing Arts Library as the launch point that “gave [her] that first bounce” toward her profession, and noted that she studied in Josten “almost every night before they closed,” delving deeply into the library’s resources. Chan has since held a number of conducting roles for symphony orchestras in Antwerp, Berlin, Boston, Chicago, London, Los Angeles, and more.

Smith faculty and staff, including Senior Lecturer and Director of Orchestral & Choral Activities Jonathan Hirsh, Elsie Irwin Sweeney Professor Emerita of Music Karen Smith Emerson, Assistant Professor of Music Jiayan Sun, and Head of Josten Performing Arts Library Marlene Wong were in attendance for the monumental occasion. Attendees witnessed Chan conducting the world premiere of Chickasaw composer Jerod Impichchaachaaha’ Tate’s “Pisachi,” Bohuslav Martinu’s First Cello Concerto (featuring cello soloist Sol Gabetta, also making her Philharmonic debut), and Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Scheherazade,” the same piece that clinched Chan’s Flick Competition win in 2014.

Head of Josten Performing Arts Library Marlene Wong and Elim Chan

Head of Josten Performing Arts Library Marlene Wong and Elim Chan.

After the performance, members of the Smith community had the opportunity to meet with Chan and Chan’s family.

Learn more about Elim Chan and her impressive journey from Smith to the world stage.


Marlene Wong, Head of Josten Performing Arts Library: