Mark Seto leads a wide-ranging musical life as a conductor, musicologist, teacher, and violinist. He is Artistic Director and Conductor of The Chelsea Symphony in New York City and Associate Professor of Music at Connecticut College.
Since Seto’s tenure with The Chelsea Symphony began in 2011, the ensemble has programmed more than three dozen world premieres and has had debut performances at David Geffen Hall, Alice Tully Hall, the DiMenna Center for Classical Music, Merkin Concert Hall, and Symphony Space. Under his leadership, the orchestra launched an annual composition contest for early-career composers in partnership with Gerard Schwarz, Conductor Laureate of the Seattle Symphony and Music Director of the All-Star Orchestra; and established an outreach program to bring music to Rikers Island Correctional Facility. Seto’s recent engagements with The Chelsea Symphony include collaborations with actors David Hyde Pierce, Charles Busch, and Victor Garber, and the New York City premiere of Mark O’Connor’s Improvised Violin Concerto, with the composer soloing. In December 2014, Seto conducted The Chelsea Symphony at Lincoln Center for the red carpet premiere of Mozart in the Jungle, the critically acclaimed Amazon Original Series starring Gael García Bernal, Lola Kirke, Bernadette Peters, and Malcolm McDowell. Highlights of the 2017-2018 season, Sea Change, include a popup performance in Times Square to promote the BBC America series Blue Planet 2, and an Earth Day concert at the American Museum of Natural History featuring Become Ocean by Pulitzer Prize winner John Luther Adams.
At Connecticut College, Seto directs the faculty ensemble and the Connecticut College Orchestra, and teaches music history, theory, conducting, and orchestration. His research as a musicologist explores issues of influence, nationalism, and cultural identity in fin-de-siècle Paris. Seto’s articles and reviews have been published in 19th-Century Music (University of California Press), Nineteenth-Century Choral Music (Routledge, 2013), Nineteenth-Century Music Review (Cambridge University Press), Current Musicology, and Nineteenth-Century French Studies. Working from manuscript sources in Paris, Seto prepared performance materials and conducted the western hemisphere premiere of La Nuit et l’amour by Augusta Holmès, one of the most significant women composers of the French Third Republic.
Seto was the founding music director of Morningside Opera in New York City, a company acclaimed by The New York Times for its “bold imagination and musical diligence.” In 2009, he conducted the western hemisphere premiere of J.A. Hasse’s Alcide al bivio in a production praised by Opera News as a “lively, well calibrated performance.” He has also served as Assistant Conductor of the New York Youth Symphony, Yale Symphony Orchestra, and Columbia University Orchestra.
Seto holds a BA in Music from Yale University and an MA, MPhil, and PhD in Historical Musicology from Columbia University. He studied at the Pierre Monteux School for Conductors in Maine, where he served as an assistant to music director Michael Jinbo for two seasons. His conducting teachers include Lawrence Leighton Smith and Shinik Hahm, and he has participated in workshops with Kenneth Kiesler, Daniel Lewis, Donald Portnoy, Donald Thulean, and Paul Vermel. He was the 2003 recipient of the Yale Friends of Music Prize and has been honored with an ASCAP Morton Gould award.
Photographer: Wai Ng