Christopher James Lees serves as resident conductor of the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra and principal conductor of the Charlotte Symphony Youth Orchestra. In addition to conducting more than 50 performances a season, he has stepped in to conduct classical subscription concerts on four occasions, including a gala performance with Grammy Award–winning artist and jazz legend Branford Marsalis in May 2021.
This season Lees makes his debuts with the New York Philharmonic and the New World Symphony. An active guest conductor, he has returned for performances with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Rochester Philharmonic, and the Houston, Detroit, Milwaukee, North Carolina, Portland, Winston-Salem, and Flint symphony orchestras. Additional engagements have taken him to the National Arts Centre Orchestra (Ottawa), Orchestra de Chambre de Paris, Aspen Philharmonic Orchestra, and Cabrillo Festival Orchestra, and to the Music in the Mountains Festival and Festival Internacional de Inverno de Campos do Jordão in Brazil.
Only the second American Gustavo Dudamel Conducting Fellow with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Lees made his debut with that orchestra in April 2013 and returned for concerts in February 2015. He has served as an assistant conductor for some of the world’s leading conductors, including Dudamel, Paavo Järvi, Herbert Blomstedt, Leonard Slatkin, David Robertson, Robert Spano, Marin Alsop, Pablo Heras-Casado, Stéphane Denève, and Susanna Mälkki. After two summers of study with Robert Spano at the Aspen Music Festival, Lees was named winner of both the 2011 James Conlon Conducting Prize and the 2012 Aspen Conducting Prize, respectively. In 2013 Lees returned for a third summer as assistant conductor for the Aspen Music Festival and School.
An active pianist and equally comfortable in the opera pit, Lees has served as music director or assistant conductor for operas ranging from Verdi’s Aida, Mozart’s Don Giovanni, and Britten’s Peter Grimes to Andriessen’s De Materie, John Harbison’s The Great Gatsby, and Rota’s Il Capello di paglia di Firenze. A dedicated advocate for the music of our time, Lees has premiered more than 150 works by a diverse range of artists and several Pulitzer Prize–winning composers, including John Adams, William Bolcom, John Corigliano, Jennifer Higdon, Joseph Schwantner, Steven Stucky, Caroline Shaw, Roger Reynolds, and Julia Wolfe.
Learn more about Christopher James Lees