Christopher Rountree

About Christopher Rountree

Christopher Rountree is an American conductor specializing in contemporary music. The founder of the chamber ensemble Wild Up, he has collaborated with a large variety of avant-garde and traditional artists. Rountree was born in Anaheim, California, in the early 1980s and grew up in Irvine. His mother was involved in theater, and his father was a folk musician. In high school, he was captain of the hockey team and president of the Latin club, as well as a member of the band, playing trombone and euphonium. Rountree attended California State University-Long Beach. He earned a Best Euphonium Solo Award from Drum Corps International, and it was in college that he first heard a Beethoven symphony. When Rountree was 20, his father committed suicide, leaving Rountree a note that read, "You should be a conductor. I gotta go." Rountree took the advice to heart and went on for a master's degree in conducting at the University of Michigan, earning his degree in 2009. Fearful that his lack of classical training would be an impediment, he found instead that his knowledge of music of various genres and of modern art and performance art was helpful. Returning to California, he founded Wild Up in 2010, funding it with a small inheritance; otherwise, the organization had no income, but gradually, the group began to attract attention around Los Angeles and then beyond with its unconventional concerts (including one in a museum bathroom and another in an oak grove) and with Rountree's energetic conducting style. Rountree also found himself in demand from other organizations, both avant-garde (New York's Prototype Festival and the Los Angeles Philharmonic's Brooklyn New Music Festival) and traditional (the San Diego Symphony and the Brooklyn Philharmonic). Rountree is on the conducting faculty at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and he has served as the artistic adviser for new music at the American Youth Orchestra. Rountree has made several recordings of new music with Wild Up, including one of music by Missy Mazzoli and Royce Vavrek in 2020 for the PentaTone label. ~ James Manheim

Anaheim, California, United States

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