Molly Turner is a Chinese-born conductor and composer. Recently, she has conducted the Juilliard Orchestra, Gstaad Festival Orchestra, Theater Orchester Biel Solothurn, Dallas Opera Orchestra, Primrose International Viola Competition, Colburn Orchestra, and Eastern Festival Orchestra. Highlights of the 2022-23 season include a debut with San Francisco Symphony's SoundBox Series, a School's Concert with Orchestre de Paris, conducting the premiere of her own new orchestra work with the Tacoma Youth Symphony, and a premiere of Dr. Anthony Brandt's Diabelli 200 at Performing Arts Houston. In 2019, Molly was the youngest conductor invited for residency at the Dallas Opera’s Hart Institute for Women Conductors. She has served as assistant conductor for the Berliner Philharmoniker, Orchestre de Paris, San Francisco Symphony, Utah Symphony, San Diego Symphony, National Polish Radio Symphony, Juilliard Orchestra, and Colburn Orchestra. She also regularly prepares the Juilliard Orchestra and has assisted Esa-Pekka Salonen, David Robertson, Rafael Payare, Nicholas McGegan, Jeffrey Milarsky, and Paul Watkins.
Molly is a devoted advocate for contemporary and modern music. She has collaborated with many living composers including Paul Novak, Max Vinetz, Lauren Vandervelden, Corey Chang, Sujin Kang, Webster Gadbois, and Sofia Ouyang and has a strong affinity for the music of Stravinsky, Bartok, and Lutoslawski. Molly is a member of the Colburn Contemporary Ensemble and has conducted works by Lou Harrison, Timo Andres, and Nina Young with them. As part of Juilliard’s ChoreoComp, Molly premiered four different dance pieces created by current student composers and choreographers and at Rice, she conducted and composed for Hear&Now: New Music.
Pursuing projects outside of the traditional concert hall is a core part of her artistic identity. In spring 2021, Molly performed an open improvisation set on violin alongside Pablo O’Connell, Kebra-Seyoun Charles, and Ryan Jung in an Alice Tully Hall window performance. While she was a Teaching Artist Fellow at Juilliard, she was involved in creating an improvisatory work that used K-8 student “found sound” recordings as source material. From 2017-2019 was the artistic director for New Art / New Music at the Moody Center for the Arts. There she worked with composers and visual artists to curate a concert of new works that were site-specific to current exhibitions at the Moody Center. In 2017, she played viola in a multimedia performance art project alongside Angelbet Metoyer creating art live, Saul Williams reciting poetry, and other musicians openly improvising. In 2015, she co-wrote a graphic score with Sarah Grace-Graves for sculptor Katie Grinnan’s Astrology Orchestra written for the Turrell Skypsace.
In her own music she is interested in the balance between strictly dictated elements and more aleatoric notation. Her relationship to the standard repertoire is often integrated in subtle ways beneath the foreground of the music. A violinist and violist herself, she finds string instruments endlessly fascinating. Improvisation is a core part of her writing process and she often starts her work as voice memos or graphic scores. In 2018, her string quartet, The Shapes of Stories, was read by the Arditti Quartet. Her work has been heard in Benaroya Hall, Duncan Recital Hall, the Moody Center for the Arts, and has been privately recorded.
She completed her master’s degree in orchestral conducting at The Juilliard School studying with David Robertson and received a bachelor in music composition cum laude from Rice University. She is now pursuing an artist diploma at the Colburn Conservatory of Music in Los Angeles, where she studies under the guidance of Esa-Pekka Salonen in the Negaunee Conducting Program as a Salonen Fellow. She has studied composition with Kurt Stallmann, Arthur Gottschalk, Karim Al-Zand, and Richard Lavenda. She has attended the Gstaad Festival Conducting Academy where she worked with Johannes Schlaefli, Jaap van Zweden, and Baldur Brönnimann and the Eastern Music Festival where she worked with Gerard Schwarz. In her free time, she enjoys biking, playing Ultimate Frisbee, and reading.