Conductor Michael Christie Leads the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra in Howard Hanson’s Merry Mount (opera in concert), April 10 & 12 in Rochester, NY and May 7 at Carnegie Hall

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CONDUCTOR MICHAEL CHRISTIE

Leads the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra in Howard Hanson’s Merry Mount (opera in concert)

Carnegie Hall Preview
Thursday, April 10, 2014 at 7:30pm | Saturday, April 12, 2014 at 8pm
Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre | 433 East Main St. | Rochester, NY
Tickets: $15-$92 at 585.454.2100 or www.rpo.org

Spring For Music at Carnegie Hall
*Christie’s Carnegie Hall Debut*
Wednesday, May 7, 2014 at 7:30pm
Stern Auditorium at Carnegie Hall | 57th St. & 7th Ave. | NYC
Tickets: $12.50-$25 at www.carnegiehall.org, 212.247.7800, or the Carnegie Hall Box Office (154 West 57th Street, NYC)

Michael Christie: www.michaelchristieonline.com

“Michael Christie conducts with conviction” – The Los Angeles Times
“remarkable precision and flair” – Chicago Tribune

Rochester & New York, NY — Conductor Michael Christie will make his Carnegie Hall debut leading the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra with the Eastman-Rochester Chorus and Bach Children’s Chorus of Nazareth College in an opera-in-concert performance of Howard Hanson’s Merry Mount during the fourth and final Spring For Music festival at Carnegie Hall on May 7, 2014 at 7:30pm (57th and 7th Street, NYC). Preview performances in Rochester will take place on April 10 at 7:30pm and April 12 at 8pm at Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre (433 East Main St.).

Michael Christie, who hails from Buffalo, NY, is music director of the Minnesota Opera, a post he recently extended through the 2017-18 season, and last month led the classical subscription series opening concerts of the Minnesota Orchestra during its homecoming season. He is Music Director Laureate of the Phoenix Symphony and the Colorado Music Festival, and returns for the third time to conduct at the Aspen Music Festival this summer. The New York Times praised the “plush colorings and shimmering sounds” he drew from the orchestra in the premiere of The Gospel of Mary Magdalene at the San Francisco Opera.

Of the upcoming performances, Christie said, “It is notable and very rare to have the opportunity to associate a community, its orchestra and music school with a great American composer so directly as we are able with Howard Hanson in Rochester, NY. What the audience will experience in Merry Mount is a well-paced story – based around American author Nathaniel Hawthorne’s literary work ‘The Maypole of Merry Mount’ – that evolves quite dramatically, and is really brought to life by Hanson’s beautiful and very moving music.”

In addition to the Eastman-Rochester Chorus (William Weinert, director) and the Bach Children’s Chorus of Nazareth College (Karla Krogstad, director), vocal soloists include baritone Richard Zeller (Wrestling Bradford), soprano Sara Jakubiak (Lady Sandys Marigold), bass-baritone Charles Robert Austin (Praise-God Tewke) and tenor Christopher Pfund (Sir Gower Lackland). The complete cast list is available at http://bit.ly/RPOCast.

Merry Mount is the only opera by former Eastman School of Music Director Howard Hanson, which was commissioned by and made its highly successful world stage premiere at the Metropolitan Opera in 1934. Based on Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short story, “The Maypole of Merry Mount,” its libretto by Richard Stokes has been compared to Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. Its debut in 1934 still holds the world’s record for the most curtain calls – 50 – at the Met. The Metropolitan Opera Company then took it on a brief national tour that included a stop at the Eastman Theatre, and in 1955, the Eastman School of Music staged a student production of the work.

Spring For Music was created to showcase imaginative programming from North American orchestras. The RPO is one of six orchestras to be invited to participate this year, along with the New York Philharmonic, the Seattle Symphony, the Cincinnati Symphony & May Festival Chorus, and the Winnipeg and Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestras. This will be the orchestra’s first time playing at Carnegie Hall since 1985.

About Michael Christie:

Michael Christie is a thoughtfully innovative conductor, equally at home in the symphonic and opera worlds, who is focused on making the audience experience at his performances 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.” 

Christie, who was featured in Opera News in August 2012 as one of 25 people believed to “to break out and become major forces in the field in the coming decade,” began his tenure as the first-ever Music Director of the Minnesota Opera with the 2012-13 season. His 16-year symphonic conducting career has included serving as Music Director of the Phoenix Symphony (2005-2013) and Brooklyn Philharmonic (2005-2010), and as Chief Conductor of the Queensland Orchestra (2001-2004) in Australia, as well as guest appearances leading the Los Angeles Philharmonic, National Symphony Orchestra, the Symphonies of Dallas, St. Louis, Atlanta, Houston, Minnesota, Oregon, Indianapolis, and Cincinnati. His New York Philharmonic debut came in March 2007 when he stepped in on short notice for an ailing Riccardo Muti. Christie also served as the Music Director of the Colorado Music Festival from 2000-2013, where he was highly praised for his innovative programming and where audiences are now at an all time high, resulting in him being named “Musician of the Year” by The Denver Post in 2010.

Over the course of his career, Christie has embarked on a series of intriguing and ambitious projects focused on growing and nurturing audiences. These include his Intermission Insights, designed to offer compelling engagement with the audience during one of the most fertile and underutilized moments during the concert, the intermission; Clef Notes, a short “real time” guide to a concert as it is being performed; Click! The Community Commissioning Club, a program in which audiences can vote on composers to be commissioned. In addition, Christie has developed initiatives around introducing audience members to music outside the standard repertoire – from Baroque to contemporary – as well as interdisciplinary collaborations with visual artists, dance companies, and theater groups, and contemporary composers such as Gorecki, Ligeti, Adams, Golijov, and Tan Dun.

Christie is committed to bringing new works to life. During his tenure with the Phoenix Symphony, he premiered works by 16 living composers, and has championed commissions by leading and emerging composers alike, including Osvaldo Golijov, Matthew Hindson, Marjan Mozetich, Stephen Paulus, Michael Daugherty, Mason Bates, Mark Grey, and more.

Michael Christie continues as Music Director of Minnesota Opera, a post he began in fall 2012 and which he recently extended through the 2017-2018 season. During the 2013-2014 season he led three productions – Puccini’s Manon Lescaut in September 2013, Richard Strauss’ Arabella in November 2013, and Verdi’s Macbeth in January 2014 at Ordway Center for the Performing Arts. During the 2012-13 season, he helmed productions of Verdi’s Nabucco, Donizetti’s Anna Bolena, and Puccini’s Turandot. In 2011, also with the Minnesota Opera, he led the world premiere performances of Kevin Puts’ Silent Night, which was awarded the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Music and was broadcast nationally on PBS in December 2013. Anthony Tommasini praised his “supple pacing and vitality” in The New York Times, when Christie led the work in 2013 with Opera Company of Philadelphia. 

In addition to his work with the Minnesota Opera, Christie’s recent and upcoming highlights include his San Francisco Opera debut in the world premiere performances of Mark Adamo’s The Gospel of Mary Magdalene in June 2013; the world premiere of Twenty-Seven, a new opera by Ricky Ian Gordon commissioned by Opera Theatre of St. Louis starring Stephanie Blythe as Gertrude Stein in summer 2014; the world premiere of a new work by Matthew Hindson with the Phoenix Symphony; and leading the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra at Carnegie Hall as part of Spring for Music in 2014.

Notable past engagements include highly praised productions of Corigliano’s The Ghosts of Versailles and John Adams’s 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 premiere of The Ghosts of Versailles at the Wexford Festival Opera; Minnesota Opera performances of Verdi’s La traviata, Bernard Herrmann’s Wuthering Heights, Puccini’s Madame Butterfly; as well as various performances at Opernhaus Zürich and Finnish National Opera.

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, Christie enjoys a strong profile in Australia, where he has conducted the Sydney Symphony, Tasmanian Symphony, Opera Queensland, and the Western Australian Symphony in Perth.

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 1996-1997 season. Christie graduated from the Oberlin College Conservatory of Music with a bachelor’s degree in trumpet performance. He is married to Alexis, a physician, and they have a daughter, Sinclair, born in 2008. Michael can be found on Facebook at www.facebook.com/michaelchristieonline and on Twitter as @MC_Conductor. www.michaelchristieonline.com.

About the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra:

The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra has been committed to enriching and inspiring our community through the art of music since its founding in 1922. The RPO presents up to 150 concerts a year, serving nearly 200,000 people through ticketed events, education and community engagement activities, and concerts in schools and community centers throughout the region. Notable former music directors include Eugene Goossens, José Iturbi, Erich Leinsdorf, David Zinman, and Conductor Laureate Christopher Seaman; Principal Pops Conductor Jeff Tyzik has earned a national reputation for excellence in pops programming during his 20-year tenure with the RPO. With Michael Butterman as Principal Conductor for Education and Outreach (The Louise and Henry Epstein Family Chair) – the first position of its kind in the country – the RPO reaches 14,000 children through its specific programs for school-aged children. The RPO’s 2013-14 season highlights include Principal Pops Conductor Jeff Tyzik’s 20th anniversary celebration, and a performance at Carnegie Hall on May 7, 2014, as part of the Spring For Music festival. www.rpo.org

About Spring For Music:

Spring For Music is a four-year festival at Carnegie Hall, celebrating and exhibiting the quality and creativity of North American orchestras. During its inaugural season, Spring For Music was categorized by the press as “bold,” “gripping,” “vibrant,” “inspired,” “virtuosic,” and “brilliant.” The New Yorker hailed it as “fresh at every turn,” while The New York Times stated that Spring For Music gives “power to the listener.” The festival, which is presented in partnership with Carnegie Hall, began in 2011. Tickets are $25 for any seat in the house. Spring For Music firmly believes that great musical ideas and great concert programs are essential to the success of orchestras. The festival allows participating orchestras to showcase their artistic philosophies through distinctive and adventurous programming in one of the world’s most competitive musical environments. Spring For Music is an experiment: an idea to take risks, explore new territory and build involvement. Founding Sponsors of Spring For Music are The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Jan and Daniel R. Lewis, Marguerite and Gerry Lenfest. www.springformusic.com

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