Conductor Christian Reif

German conductor Christian Reif, who has quickly established a reputation for his natural musicality, innovative programming and technical command, is Music Director of the Lakes Area Music Festival of Minnesota. San Francisco Chronicle has written: “Reif is a remarkable talent… a conductor of considerable stature, and everything felt like the work of a significant musical artist.”

Reif’s 2021/22 season includes appearances with the Baltimore Symphony, New World Symphony, Kansas City Symphony, Hallé Orchestra, Gävle Symphony, Odense Symphony and Norrlands Opera Orchestra. He will lead a Juilliard Opera production of The Merry Wives of Windsor at Juilliard’s Peter Jay Sharp Theater in his NYC opera debut.

Christian Reif has conducted the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Dallas Symphony, Ulster Orchestra, Romanian Radio Symphony, Aalborg Symphony, Fundación Excelentia in Madrid, North Carolina Symphony, San Antonio Symphony, Santa Barbara Symphony, Toledo Symphony, Colorado Springs Philharmonic, Orchestre National de Belgique and Orquestra Sinfonica Portuguese in Lisbon. Most recently, he conducted the Stavanger Symphony in a program of Tchaikovsky Romeo and Juliet and Shostakovich Symphony No. 1 paired with Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915 with soprano Julia Bullock, and he made his debut in March 2021 with the Orchestre National d’île de France in a streamed performance of Stravinsky’s Apollon Musagète. In June 2021, he made his debut with the Rundfunkorchester of the Bayrische Rundfunk in Munich creating a Mozart kaleidoscope for their family concert series.

Reif has been active on the piano during the pandemic, recording a series of at-home virtual “Songs of Comfort” with his wife Julia Bullock, ranging from Carole King’s classic “Up on the Roof” to Schubert’s Wanderers Nachtlied. In November 2020, NPR Music featured the duo in a “Tiny Desk (Home) Concert” for their special quarantine edition of the series. NPR’s Tom Huizenga found it “among the most transcendent musical moments I’ve experienced this year” and The New York Times highlighted them on their “Best Classical Music of 2020” list.

Previous season highlights included appearances in New York at Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival with the International Contemporary Ensemble and as part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s MetLiveArts series on a new chamber version of John Adams’s El Niño with the American Modern Opera Company and performances with the San Francisco Symphony, Hong Kong Philharmonic, National Symphony Orchestra in Washington D.C., St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz, Brucknerorchester Linz and at Opera San Jose on a production of Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci.

From 2016 to 2019, Reif served as Resident Conductor of the San Francisco Symphony and Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra (SFSYO). His tenure culminated in a six-city 2019 European tour with the SFSYO including performances at Vienna’s Musikverein, Berlin Philharmonie and Hamburg Elbphilharmonie. Following the Berlin performance, the Merkur wrote of Reif that a “bright future and a great career must lie ahead”. He was a Conducting Fellow with the New World Symphony from 2014 to 2016, and a Conducting Fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center in the summers of 2015 and 2016.

Reif’s enthusiasm in performing contemporary music has led to several world premieres. Among those are Anahita Abbasi’s …within the shifting grounds… (a work commissioned by Reif and SFSYO in collaboration with the International Contemporary Ensemble), Michael Gordon’s El Sol Caliente (a city symphony in honor of Miami Beach’s centennial), and concertos for DJ and orchestra performed with the New World Symphony.

Christian Reif studied with Alan Gilbert at the Juilliard School, where he completed his Master of Music in Conducting in 2014 and received the Charles Schiff Conducting Award. Prior to that, he studied with Dennis Russell Davies at the Mozarteum Salzburg, where he received a diploma in 2012 and worked with singers as a répétiteur. He is winner of the 2015 German Operetta Prize, awarded by the German Music Council, and two Kulturförderpreise awards given to promising artists of the region who promote cultural advancement in their communities.