The Life of a Maestro

In Celebration of Maestro Michael Christie’s 50th Birthday

Michael Christie was appointed Music Director of the New West Symphony in 2018. He was born in Buffalo, NY, in June 1974, and is the eldest of four, with two younger brothers and a sister.

Michael attended public schools in Buffalo and West Seneca, NY, before attending Oberlin College in Ohio (1992-96). He started playing trumpet in fourth grade and enjoyed many years playing with the Greater Buffalo Youth Orchestra. During high school he was a constant presence onstage as a singer/dancer and instrumentalist.

His passion for flying grew during high school. He advanced quickly through the ranks of the Civil Air Patrol and earned his private pilot’s license in Long Island, NY. The memories he holds most dear from his childhood are long summer vacations at the family lake cottage, waterskiing and swimming, attending concerts and the theater with family, and playing street football.

He chuckles when he is reminded that his senior high school yearbook quote was: “to be average really scares the hell out of me.”

As a junior at Oberlin, Michael was by far the youngest competitor chosen to join an international group of conductors for the first International Sibelius Conductors’ Competition in Helsinki, Finland (1995). He won a prize for Outstanding Potential and started his professional conducting career. He was appointed Apprentice Conductor of the Chicago Symphony (1996), Associate Conductor of the Helsinki Philharmonic and Assistant Conductor of the Zurich Opera (1997-2001). He would go on to become Music Director/Chief Conductor of the Queensland Orchestra (Brisbane, Australia, 2001-04), Colorado Music Festival (Boulder, CO, 2000-13), Phoenix Symphony (Phoenix, AZ, 2005-13), Brooklyn Philharmonic (Brooklyn, NY, 2005-10), Minnesota Opera (Minneapolis, MN, 2011-18), and New West Symphony (Thousand Oaks, CA, 2019-current).

He has been recognized for adventurous programming by the League of American Orchestras, 40 Under 40 by the Boulder Daily Camera, and received a GRAMMY Award for Best Opera Recording for The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs (2019).

Throughout his career, Michael has led dozens of world premiere performances of operas and symphonic works around the world. He takes great pride in focusing his musical programming on the audience experience while engaging performers in an array of musical styles. More than anything, he finds delight when performers and/or patrons experience a performance and remark “who knew?!”

Music occupies a prized position in Michael’s life, along with family and flying. Michael’s wife is a brilliant mother and physician hailing from Brisbane, Australia. Their children, a daughter (15) and son (9), are passionate skiers and relatively enthusiastic musicians. His extended family lives in New York. He is the only professional musician in his family.

He would like to extend sincere thanks and gratitude to his counterpart, Natalia Staneva, for working tirelessly to keep music at the forefront of our partnership, to Sasha Gurevich for being a wonderful thought partner, to Patricia Jones for embracing our ideas with such pride and vigor, and to Sue McDonald for proudly knowing our patrons and advocating for them and New West Symphony.

Michael would like to thank the New West Symphony Board of Directors for embracing our vision of community through music. Each of you has brought passion and care for the orchestra’s well-being to our discussions and events.

To each person who has made exceptional efforts on behalf of the orchestra, whether through generous support, volunteer hours, or extraordinary advocacy – Thank You!

Happy 50th Birthday, Michael!