has an international reputation for inspirational music making. His diverse musical interests are reflected in his range of repertoire and he is particularly known for his interpretations of early 20th century English music, Bruckner, Brahms and Sibelius.
With a long and distinguished career in the US, Christopher was Music Director of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra (New York) until 2011 and was subsequently named Conductor Laureate. During his 13-year tenure – the longest in the orchestra’s history – he raised the orchestra’s artistic level, broadened its audience base and created a new concert series. This contribution was recognised with an award from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers and he has continued to return annually to the orchestra.
Other key positions have included Music Director of the Naples Philharmonic Orchestra, Conductor-in-Residence with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Artistic Advisor of the San Antonio Symphony, and in the UK he was Principal Conductor with both the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and Northern Sinfonia.
As a guest conductor, Christopher has recently performed with the Aspen Music Festival, Detroit, Houston, St Louis, Cincinnati, Milwaukee and Seattle symphony orchestras, the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra, Kristiansand Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra of Opera North and Orquestra Filarmônica de Minas Gerais in Brazil. He frequently visits Australia and Asia where he has conducted the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra and the National Taiwan, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, and Singapore symphony orchestras, amongst others.
In May 2009, the University of Rochester made Christopher an Honorary Doctor of Music, acknowledging his outstanding leadership as conductor, recording artist, teacher and community arts partner. In 2013 the University published his first book, Inside Conducting, illustrating Christopher’s wealth of experience as a conductor and a teacher. The book was chosen by both The Financial Times and Classical Music magazine as one of their books of 2013; while The Spectator wrote that it “demystifies the art and the figure of the conductor.”
Christopher makes a point of encouraging young talent and was the Course Director of the Symphony Services International Conductor Development Programme in Australia for many years, devoting a number of weeks each year to teaching and directing training programmes for young conductors. He has led masterclasses with the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich and has also worked with the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.
As a recording artist Christopher has worked with the Royal Philharmonic and the Philharmonia orchestras amongst others, and his recordings with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra have received great critical acclaim – The Sunday Telegraph described their 2012 harmonia mundi recording of Vaughan Williams’ A London Symphony as a “fine recording of an English classic … as impressive as I have ever heard.” In the 2018/19 season, Christopher conducted the Britten Sinfonia and Guy Johnston for a recording of Howells’ Cello Concerto in the chapel of King’s College, Cambridge with Hyperion Records. He also recorded Malcolm Arnold’s Bridge on the River Kwai Suite with the BBC Concert Orchestra for a television broadcast on the BBC’s ‘Our Classical Century’ documentary in April 2019.
Appointed concertmaster of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra 2005 at age twenty-four, Juliana Athayde became the youngest person to hold the position since the orchestra’s inception in 1922. She has appeared as guest concertmaster for the Houston and Kansas City Symphonies as well as the National Arts Center Orchestra in Ottawa, Ontario. Prior to joining the RPO, Ms. Athayde was concertmaster of the Canton (OH) and Plymouth (MI) Symphonies. In 2002, she served as concertmaster of the New York String Seminar under the direction of Jaime Laredo for concerts at Carnegie Hall. For five years, she was a member of the Iris Chamber Orchestra in Memphis and she has performed with The Cleveland Orchestra in the United States and Europe. A fellow at the Aspen Music Festival and School for six years, Ms. Athayde was awarded the prestigious Dorothy DeLay fellowship in 2005 and was subsequently invited to return in 2010 to deliver the festival’s convocation speech.
Ms. Athayde’s numerous solo appearances with the RPO have covered a wide range of composers from Mozart and Brahms to Prokofiev and Piazzolla as well as the 2010 premiere of Allen Shawn’s violin concerto, commissioned by the RPO and specifically written for Ms. Athayde. She has also performed as a soloist with the Asheville, Canton, Diablo, Fayetteville, Flint, Mid-Texas, New Bedford, Palo Alto, Plymouth and Wyoming Symphony Orchestras. A native of the San Francisco Bay Area, Ms. Athayde made her solo debut at the age of 16 performing with the San Francisco Symphony. In demand as a chamber musician in Rochester and around the country, Ms. Athayde has collaborated with many great artists, including Michael Tilson Thomas, Joseph Silverstein, Jon Nakamatsu, William Preucil, Jon Kimura Parker, Anton Nel, Orion Weiss, and Jean-Yves Thibaudet. She has been praised by critics for her “power and precision”, “melting lyricism”, and “larger than life” performances. Together with her husband, RPO principal oboist Erik Behr, Ms. Athayde is Artistic Director of the Society for Chamber Music in Rochester. www.societyforchambermusicrochester.com
A passionate educator, Ms. Athayde is an Associate Professor of Violin at the Eastman School of Music, and has served as a Visiting Teacher at the Cleveland Institute of Music and a Visiting Professor at Cornell University. She began her studies at the age of two in the Suzuki method and continues that tradition by teaching annually for the Hawaii Suzuki Association and frequently at the Advanced Suzuki Workshop at Stanford University. Her principal teachers are Dorothy Lee, Zoya Leybin, Paul Kantor and William Preucil.
Named a Distinguished Member of Sigma Alpha Iota and chosen to receive the 2012 University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance Emerging Artist Alumni Award, Ms. Athayde was also presented with the Albert A. Stanley Award, the school’s highest honor awarded to just one graduating senior, upon her graduation from the University of Michigan with Paul Kantor (B.M. ‘02). Completing her graduate work at the Cleveland Institute of Music with Cleveland Orchestra Concertmaster William Preucil (M.M. ’04 and A.D. ‘05), she is the first graduate of CIM’s Concertmaster Academy. She spends her summers performing alongside her husband at San Diego’s Mainly Mozart Festival and the Sun Valley Summer Symphony in Idaho. Ms. Athayde performs on a 1948 Celeste Farotte violin and a Hill bow.