Christopher Rountree, 31, is the founder, conductor and creative director of the pathbreaking L.A. chamber orchestra wild Up. The group has been called “Searing. Penetrating. And Thrilling” by NPR’s Performance Today and named “Best Classical Music of 2012” by the Los Angeles Times. wild Up started in 2010 with no funding and no musicians, driven only by Rountree’s vision of a world-class orchestra that creates visceral, provocative experiences that are unmoored from classical traditions.
Whether he’s conducting, composing or curating a program, Rountree’s approach – with its “infectious enthusiasm” (L.A. Times) and “elegant clarity” (New York Times) – is united by extremely high energy and a deeply engaged relationship between a score, musicians and audience.
“For most people, programming and conducting are about restraint, intellect. I want to get rid of restraint: I want to tear the thing’s guts out. I want to go all the way there,” Rountree says. “I want to empower musicians. I want to energize an audience. It’s not that I’m a ‘conduit for the score’ – everyone in the hall is a part of a circuit that connects the conductor, the musicians, the score and the listeners. A concert shouldn’t leave people when people leave the concert hall.”
In the coming year, Rountree will teach a course he designed for the Colburn School, ”Music in the 21st Century,” through which students will design and perform their own new music festival, the only conservatory program of its kind in the world. He’ll conduct Opera Omaha performing John Adams’ “A Flowering Tree”; debut on the San Francisco Symphony’s SoundBox series; and start a three-year stint as guest conductor of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. Rountree will debut 12 of his own compositions with various groups and soloists.