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Conductor Michael Christie Leads Finalists in the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Competition

With the Welsh National Opera Orchestra

June 12–19, 2021 with Live Broadcasts on BBC Channels

Available On-Demand on BBC iPlayer

More Information:

Grammy-winning conductor Michael Christie will lead the Welsh National Opera Orchestra to accompany finalists in the 2021 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World main prize competition. Staged without an audience in strict compliance with the latest health and safety government guidelines related to COVID-19, the competition takes place from June 12 – June 19, 2021 at St. David’s Hall in Cardiff. The performances will be broadcast across the BBC to audiences around the UK, and available on BBC iPlayer. The singer named BBC Cardiff Singer of the World is presented with the Cardfif Trophy and £20,000.

Christie says, “I am thrilled to be conducting for the BBC Singer of the World Competition this, of all complicated years. This truly epic undertaking reminds me of several similar projects I’ve led at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, so I am ready for the challenge of the huge variety of music and the rush of the nonstop performance schedule that goes with a competition like this. I also look forward to being one of the people who helps all the competing artists realize their musical vision and elevate them to even higher levels of performance, whether or not they take the top prize!"

Christie won a 2019 Grammy Award (Best Opera Recording) for the world premiere recording of Mason Bates’ The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs with The Santa Fe Opera (PENTATONE). In 2017, he led the world premiere performances at The Santa Fe Opera, “with suave assurance” (San Francisco Chronicle), with “precision and pizzazz” (Santa Fe New Mexican), and “preside[d] over an expertly executed performance” (The Financial Times). He was featured in Opera News in August 2012 as one of 25 people believed to “break out and become major forces in the field in the coming decade.” At Minnesota Opera, Christie led 24 productions over eight years, six seasons as its first-ever Music Director (2012-2018). Christie has also led performances with San Francisco Opera, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Opernhaus Zürich, Finnish National Opera, Scottish Opera, Lyric Opera of Kansas City, and Lyric Opera of Chicago, Opera Company of Philadelphia, Wexford Festival Opera, and Opéra de Montréal.

Now in its 20th edition, the biennial competition has launched the careers of some of the biggest opera stars, such as Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Bryn Terfel, Jamie Barton and 2019 winner baritone Andrei Kymach from Ukraine. The 2021 main prize jury is chaired by General Director of Welsh National Opera Aidan Lang, and includes two celebrated stars of the opera world, Welsh bass-baritone Neal Davies and US soprano Roberta Alexander. In addition to Christie and the WNO Orchestra, the singers will also be accompanied by BBC National Orchestra of Wales conducted by Andrew Litton.

This year’s event features singers from 15 countries including Austria, China, Denmark, England, Georgia, Iceland, Mongolia, South Korea, Russia, South Africa, USA, Venezuela, Wales and, represented for the first time, Madagascar and Kosovo. With an average age of 29, the competitors have made it through three selection stages from a record-breaking number of applications with virtual auditions for all selection rounds.

The full list of finalists and complete broadcast information is available here:

About Michael Christie: Grammy award-winning conductor Michael Christie is a thoughtfully innovative conductor, equally at home in the symphonic and opera worlds, who is focused on making the audience experience at his performances entertaining, enlightening, and enriching. The New York Times reports, “Michael Christie is a director open to adventure and challenge,” and the Cincinnati Enquirer declares, “If Michael Christie represents the future of music in this country, the future looks promising indeed.”

Deeply committed to bringing new works to life, Michael Christie has championed commissions by leading and emerging composers alike, including Mark Adamo, Mason Bates, Unsuk Chin, Michael Daugherty, Osvaldo Golijov, Mark Grey, Daron Hagen, Jennifer Higdon, Matthew Hindson, Huang Ruo, Marjan Mozetich, Stephen Paulus, Kevin Puts, and more.

Michael Christie has been a strong proponent of multicultural programming throughout his career. He created a World Music Festival at the Phoenix Symphony and a World Music Series at the Colorado Music Festival. As Chief Conductor of the Queensland Orchestra in Australia, he toured Japan and recorded his debut album with didgeridoo player William Barton. With the Phoenix Symphony, he premiered and recorded Mark Grey’s Enemy Slayer: A Navajo Oratorio, libretto by Navajo poet Laura Tohe. While Music Director of the Brooklyn Philharmonic, he led performances of Tan Dun’s The Gate and created the orchestra’s Nuevo Latino Festival.

Christie’s conducting career, spanning more than 20 years, has included serving as Music Director of the Phoenix Symphony (2005-2013) and Brooklyn Philharmonic (2005-2010), and as Chief Conductor of the Queensland Orchestra (2001-2004) in Australia, as well as guest appearances leading the Los Angeles Philharmonic, National Symphony Orchestra, Civic Orchestra of Chicago, Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, Rhode Island Philharmonic, and the Symphonies of Dallas, St. Louis, Atlanta, Houston, Minnesota, Oregon, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, and Santa Rosa. Christie’s many European engagements have included leading the Rotterdam Philharmonic, DSO Berlin, Orchestre National de Lille, Swedish and Netherlands Radio Symphony, City of Birmingham Symphony, NDR Hannover Orchestra and the Czech Philharmonic. In addition, Christie enjoys a strong profile in Australia, where he has conducted the Sydney Symphony, Tasmanian Symphony, Opera Queensland, and the Western Australian Symphony in Perth.

Michael Christie first came to international attention in 1995 when he was awarded a special prize for “Outstanding Potential” at the First International Sibelius Conductors’ Competition in Helsinki. Following the competition, he was invited to become an apprentice conductor with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra where he subsequently worked with Daniel Barenboim as well as at the Berlin State Opera during the 1996-1997 season. For more information, visit

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