Christopher Lees

Orchestral Conducting Department ChairSchool of Music
O: 336-770-3357
Christopher Lees

Christopher James Lees is the Music Director of the Symphony Orchestra and Associate Professor of Conducting at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. He is an emerging young conductor becoming increasingly recognized for his powerful and nuanced performances across a wide array of repertoire.  

A pianist equally comfortable in the opera pit, he has been Music Director or Assistant Conductor on a wide array of operas, including Aida, Don Giovanni, Peter Grimes, John Harbison's The Great Gatsby, Mark Adamo's Little Women, Louis Andriessen's De Materie, and Philip Glass' the CIVIL warS.

As Music Director for the University of Michigan's Contemporary Directions Ensemble, he developed a reputation for pioneering the specific connections between innovative contemporary music with other specialty art forms, many in alternative spaces and formats.

His stylistic range could hardly have been more impressive.

Pittsburgh Times-Review

  • Assistant Conductor of the Charlotte Symphony
  • Served as Associate Director of Orchestras at University of Michigan
  • Served as Assistant Conductor of the Akron Symphony Orchestra
  • Guest conducting engagements include performances with the Detroit, Milwaukee, Toledo, Portland (Maine), Flint and Kalamazoo symphonies, as well as with the National Arts Centre Orchestra, Orchestra de Chambre de Paris, Aspen Philharmonic Orchestra, Cabrillo Festival Orchestra and at the Music in the Mountains Festival & Festival Internacional de Inverno de Campos do Jordão in Brazil, among others.
Career Highlights
  • He has commissioned many new works, and has collaborated closely with Pulitzer Prize-winning composers including John Adams, William Bolcom, Joseph Schwantner and Jennifer Higdon, among others.
  • Primary conducting mentors are Robert Spano and Larry Rachleff. 
Awards, Recognitions and Honors
  • Only the second American recipient of a Gustavo Dudamel Conducting Fellowship with the Los Angeles Philharmonic
  • Bruno Walker Memorial Foundation Career Development Grant recipient
  • Recipient of the Zander Conducting Fellowship with the Boston Philharmonic
  • Received a prestigious Career Assistance Grant from the Solti Foundation US
  • Showcased as one of six conductors selected for the 2011 Bruno Walter Memorial Foundation National Conductor Preview, hosted by the League of American Orchestras and Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Winner of both the 2011 James Conlon Conducting Prize and the 2012 Aspen Conducting Prizes

M.M.University of Michigan

B.M.University of Michigan