Michael Christie Leads Minnesota Orchestra's Classical Series Opening Concerts This Weekend
Conductor Michael Christie will lead the opening concerts of the Minnesota Orchestra's classical season subscription series today, February 20 at 11am; Friday, February 21 at 8pm; and Saturday, February 22 at 8pm as the orchestra returns to the renovated Orchestra Hall (1111 Nicollet Mall) for its homecoming subscription series, which runs from February through July 2014.
Christie, who is the Music Director of the Minnesota Opera, conducts the Minnesota Orchestra for the first time in 15 years, leading three of the most popular works of the 20th century's early decades: Rachmaninoff's virtuosic Piano Concerto No. 2, Stravinsky's colorful Firebird Suite and Ravel's mesmerizing Boléro. Young Russian pianist Daniil Trifonov, among the brightest stars in the next generation of pianists, performs the Rachmaninoff concerto.
"I am deeply honored to have been asked to lead these series opening performances," Christie says. "As a resident and artistic leader in the Twin Cities, this is also a fabulous opportunity to build bridges between organizations like the Minnesota Orchestra and Minnesota Opera."
Michael Christie continues as Music Director of Minnesota Opera, a post he began in fall 2012, leading three productions during the 2013-2014 season - Puccini's Manon Lescaut in September 2013, Richard Strauss' Arabella in November 2013, and Verdi's Macbeth from January 25-February 1, 2014 at Ordway Center for the Performing Arts (345 Washington Street).
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 has also served as the Music Director of the Colorado Music Festival since 2000, where he has been 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.