Christopher Rountree, Conductor

Photo: Jim Graham

Four women washing blood out of rags in a bathroom; Stravinsky in a photo studio; a violinist cutting himself out of duct tape with a razor; a lost John Adams suite at Walt Disney Concert Hall. Conductor and composer Christopher Rountree is standing at the intersection of classical music, new music, performance art and pop.

Rountree, 33, is the founder, conductor and creative director of the path-breaking L.A. chamber orchestra wild Up. The group has been called “Searing. Penetrating. And Thrilling” by NPR’s Performance Today and named “Best Classical Music of 2012” by the Los Angeles Times. wild Up started in 2010 with no funding and no musicians, driven only by Rountree’s vision of a world-class ensemble that creates visceral, provocative experiences that are unmoored from classical traditions.

In the coming year, Rountree makes his debut with San Diego Opera, conducting Peter Brook’s La Tragédie de Carmen, and with the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony. He returns to the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and to Opera Omaha, conducting Jonathan Dove’s Flight. 

In the 2015-16 season, Rountree made his conducting debut with Los Angeles Opera, conducting the world premiere of David Lang’s Anatomy Theater; Atlanta Opera, conducting David T. Little’s Soldier Songs; Diavolo Dance Theater’s trilogy L’Espace du Temps at the Valley Performing Arts Center, for which Rountree did the reductions to Esa Pekka-Salonen’s piece of the same name; the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s MusicNOW series; Colorado Music Festival; and Interlochen Center for the Arts. Return engagements included performances with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony (SoundBox), and with Ensemble LPR at (le) poisson rouge.

He’s conducted a litany of great ensembles and festivals in the last few years including the Brooklyn Philharmonic; Monday Evening Concerts; the Prototype Festival; Beth Morrison Projects; the American Composers Orchestra; the Michigan Pops Orchestra; the Winnipeg Symphony; Bohuslav Martinu Philharmonic; American Youth Symphony; and the Rose City Chamber Orchestra. With his eclectic style and resume, he’s been tapped to curate events for contemporary art institutions, including the Getty Museum, MCA Denver, and the Hammer Museum, where a long-running wild Up residency brought the group to national prominence.

Through it all, Rountree is guided by his vision of a more engaging classical music culture that blows up the old boxes. “I don’t have enough tattoos to be the bad boy provocateur of classical music,” Rountree jokes. “But is the goal to nuke the art form and build something new? That is exactly what we’re doing.”