Mark Seto leads a wide-ranging musical life as a conductor, musicologist, and violinist. He is Director of the Brown University Orchestra and Lecturer in Music at Brown University, and Artistic Director and Conductor of The Chelsea Symphony in New York City.
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 the New York City premiere of Mark O'Connor's Improvised Violin Concerto, with the composer soloing; a performance at Lincoln Center for the red carpet premiere of the critically acclaimed Amazon series Mozart in the Jungle; and an Earth Day concert at the American Museum of Natural History featuring Become Ocean by Pulitzer Prize winner John Luther Adams.
Seto's research as a musicologist explores issues of influence, nationalism, and cultural identity in fin-de-siècle Paris. His 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 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. Prior to his appointment at Brown, Seto was Associate Professor of Music at Connecticut College, where he directed the faculty ensemble and Connecticut College Orchestra, and taught music history, theory, conducting, and orchestration.