Word On The Street


Kayoko Dan takes her podium to blend into the orchestra leading her musicians into an emotional journey that transcends music and connects with the audience with truthfulness and sincerity.”

~ Pablo Villegas, classical guitarist

I have been extremely impressed by Kayoko Dan’s conducting on a number of occasions. Not only is she technically clear, but more importantly she makes real music – music that communicates its emotional content and that is stylistically appropriate as well. She has, I think, a rare gift of making music come alive for the musicians she works with and the audience as well. I consider her an extremely important talent.

~ Henry Fogel
Dean, Chicago College of Performing Arts, Roosevelt University
Former President, Chicago Symphony Orchestra and League of American Orchestras

Kayoko Dan was chosen from over 250 applicants as Music Director of the Chattanooga Symphony and Opera in 2011.  She is the youngest person to hold this position, the first woman, and the first Asian-American.  Under her leadership the orchestra has grown artistically every year, and we regularly hear from patrons that the orchestra “keeps getting better and better.”  She has raised the bar in repertoire and has enabled us to attract several very accomplished young musicians.  There is a new energy and freshness at the CSO, and Kayoko is leading the way.

~ Spencer McCallie
President of Chattanooga Symphony & Opera Board of Directors

Kayoko Dan has an infectious spirit and is a joy to work with. Her energy, intelligence and musical acumen make her both a wonderful collaborative colleague and great leader.
~ Jennifer Koh, violinist

Intellectually astute, emotionally sensitive and musically engaging, Kayoko Dan is a formidable and dynamic presence on the podium. Our collaboration on the Mendelssohn Concerto was incredibly rewarding, from the first rehearsal to the final performance. The Chattanooga Symphony is lucky to have her!
~ Jennifer Frautschi, violinist


Stravinsky Rite of Spring
From the outset, the group’s ensemble was impressively tight, making all those orchestral jabs clean and potent. There’s very little melody in the half-hour work, but Dan shaped this sprawling composition into an intelligent and exciting experience that held audience members transfixed. Intonation, articulation, nuance, spirited playing — it was all there. The orchestra members themselves must be singled out for the first-rate work, individually and as a group, that brilliantly showcased both the technical skill and musical maturity of the local musical ensemble.

~ Mel Wilhoit, Chattanooga Times Free Press

Brahms Piano Concerto
Looming over this concert was the simple fact that the weather had scuttled most of the CSO’s scheduled rehearsals for this program.
With hardly a decent rehearsal under their musical belts, Maestro Dan decided to make the second half of the concert into an “open rehearsal” with starts and stops for corrections or polishing. The men of the orchestra removed their jackets and ties during intermission, and a decidedly more casual atmosphere ensued. To make the virtual rehearsal seem more believable, Kayoko Dan had a large clock brought to the stage that is used during rehearsals to begin and end, precisely on time.

~ Mel Wilhoit, Chattanooga Times Free Press

Chattanooga Symphony & Opera Inaugural Concert
Dan, just 33, appears to have brought out the best of the players individually and as a group. The string sound was particularly rich, and the overall ensemble was unmatched.

~ Mel Wilhoit, Chattanooga Times Free Press

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