GRAMMY® award-winning conductor Michael Christie is an innovative conductor, at home in both the symphonic and opera worlds, who is focused on making the audience experience entertaining, enlightening and enriching. The New York Times reports, “Michael Christie is a director open to adventure and challenge,” and the Cincinnati Enquirer declares, “If Michael Christie represents the future of music in this country, the future looks promising indeed.”
In 2023, Christie led the San Francisco Opera’s production of The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs, composed by Mason Bates, with a libretto by Mark Campbell and directed by Kevin Newbury. Joshua Kosman of the San Francisco Chronicle said of these performances: “To this listener the opera’s greatest glories lie in the orchestra pit, where conductor Michael Christie presided with crisp assurance.”
Also in 2023, Christie conducted Tomer Zvulun’s The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs production at the Calgary Opera and a fully-staged production of Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci at the Sacramento Philharmonic & Opera (CA). In 2022, he led The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs at the Lyric Opera of Kansas City and Atlanta Opera.
In May 2024, Christie will lead a Journey to Valhalla at the Lyric Opera of Kansas City. This semi-staged event will bring to life the best moments from Wagner’s epic Ring Cycle in three hours, based on a reduced score prepared by Christie.
Photo by Bradford Rogne
Michael Christie is the Artistic and Music Director of the New West Symphony, serving southern California primarily in Ventura and Los Angeles counties. For the New West Symphony’s 2023-24 season, Christie leads performances of Dave and Chris Brubeck’s Ansel Adams: America with photos by Ansel Adams, the world premiere of Derrick Skye’s Infinite Mosaic for Violin and Orchestra (commissioned by New West Symphony), selections from Handel’s Messiah with the New West Symphony Chorus and soloists, Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, and more. Featured artists include pianists Lara Downes, Daniel Vnukowski and Roger Kellaway; vocalist Jennifer Holliday; violinist Alyssa Park; Pacific Festival Ballet and State Street Ballet; Cirque de la Symphonie; and photo historian Joseph Sohm. In the summer of 2024, New West will present its second annual Summerfest, a successful new mini-festival held outdoors on the grounds of Moorpark College.
In response to COVID-19 restrictions, Christie led the New West Symphony’s 2020-21 season of digital concerts as part of eight mini-festivals, each highlighting the music, cultures and family traditions within Ventura County and surrounding communities, while emphasizing connections with orchestral repertoire. Of his opening concert as Music Director in 2019 and immediate embrace of a more diverse and inclusive season, the Los Angeles Times reported that the orchestra is “embracing the mission of refreshing the modern concert experience for a new generation,” and praised the performance of Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade, as “far and away the most spectacular playing from what should no longer be considered a regional symphony.”
Photo by Tim Trumble
Michael Christie won a 2019 GRAMMY award (Best Opera Recording) for the world premiere recording of Mason Bates’ The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs with The Santa Fe Opera (PENTATONE). In 2017, he led the world premiere performances at The Santa Fe Opera, “with suave assurance” (San Francisco Chronicle), with “precision and pizzazz” (Santa Fe New Mexican) and “preside[d] over an expertly executed performance” (The Financial Times).
Michael Christie was featured in Opera News in August 2012 as one of 25 people believed to “break out and become major forces in the field in the coming decade.” At Minnesota Opera, he led 24 productions over eight years, with six seasons as its first-ever Music Director (2012-18)—from staples of the repertory such as La traviata, Nabucco, Macbeth, La bohème, Fanciulla del West, Arabella, and Das Rheingold to performances of contemporary operas via the company’s New Works Initiative, including Bernard Herrmann’s Wuthering Heights, the world premiere of Kevin Puts’ Silent Night, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 2012, the world premiere of Kevin Puts’ The Manchurian Candidate, and the world premiere of Paul Moravec’s The Shining.
Deeply committed to bringing new works to life, Michael Christie has championed commissions by Mark Adamo, Mason Bates, Michael Daugherty, Osvaldo Golijov, Mark Grey, Daron Hagen, Huang Ruo, Matthew Hindson, Marjan Mozetich, Stephen Paulus, Kevin Puts, and more. In 2018, he led the world premiere of An American Soldier by Huang Ruo at Opera Theatre of St. Louis “with impressive precision (Dallas Morning News).” Christie was named “a champion of fresh work” by The Denver Post and “a top-notch conductor of new works” by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Other highlights include Christie’s San Francisco Opera debut in the world premiere performances of Mark Adamo’s The Gospel of Mary Magdalene and Twenty-Seven by Ricky Ian Gordon at Opera Theatre of St. Louis. Notable past performances include highly praised productions of John Corigliano’s The Ghosts of Versailles and John Adams’ The Death of Klinghoffer, and the North American premiere of Unsuk Chin’s Alice in Wonderland, all with Opera Theatre of St. Louis; the European premieres of The Ghosts of Versailles at Wexford Festival Opera; and performances at Opernhaus Zürich, Finnish National Opera, Scottish Opera, Lyric Opera of Kansas City and Lyric Opera of Chicago. He also led performances of Kevin Puts’ Silent Night at Opera Philadelphia, Wexford Festival Opera and Opéra de Montréal.
Christie’s conducting career, spanning more than 20 years, has included serving as Music Director of the Phoenix Symphony (2005-13), Brooklyn Philharmonic (2005-10) and Colorado Music Festival (2000-13), plus Chief Conductor of the Queensland Orchestra (2001-04), as well as guest appearances with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, National Symphony Orchestra, Civic Orchestra of Chicago, Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, Rhode Island Philharmonic, and the Symphonies of Dallas, St. Louis, Atlanta, Houston, Minnesota, Oregon, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, and Santa Rosa. He is Music Director Emeritus of the Colorado Music Festival.
Christie’s many European engagements have included leading the Rotterdam Philharmonic, DSO Berlin, Orchestre National de Lille, Swedish and Netherlands Radio Symphony, City of Birmingham Symphony, NDR Hannover Orchestra and the Czech Philharmonic. In addition, he enjoys a strong profile in Australia, where he has conducted the Sydney Symphony, Tasmanian Symphony, Opera Queensland, and the Western Australian Symphony in Perth.
Christie’s New York Philharmonic debut came in 2007 when he stepped in on short notice for an ailing Riccardo Muti, and his Carnegie Hall debut came in 2014 when he led the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra as part of the Spring for Music Festival.
Michael Christie first came to international attention in 1995 when he was awarded a special prize for “Outstanding Potential” at the First International Sibelius Conductors’ Competition in Helsinki. Following the competition, he was invited to become an apprentice conductor with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra where he subsequently worked with Daniel Barenboim as well as at the Berlin State Opera during the 1996-97 season. He graduated from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music with a bachelor's degree in trumpet performance. Christie lives in the Twin Cities with his wife, Alexis, a physician, and their two children.
Updated October 2023