Christopher James Ray, conductor
It’s so nice to have a new group of singers here. The sounds of vocalises are once again permeating the air. The singers’ presence has created a palpable excitement for all the things we have planned in the coming weeks.
It has been “all hands on deck” around OSJ. I’ve kept myself quite busy with projects around our apartments and learning new skills for our new virtual world. From video editing and learning about live-streaming software to hosting online performances and researching global health and safety guidelines, these months have expanded my capabilities and kept me engaged with new topics and ideas. I’ve worked with my colleagues to create some of the content you’ve seen online, but I’ve also taken to restoring furniture in the basement!
As much as I’ve enjoyed learning new and interesting skills, it is impossible to overstate my excitement for our upcoming performances in the Fred Heiman Digital Media Studio. It has been a gift to begin music rehearsals and coachings this week in preparation for some exciting new projects. I can’t wait to see you all again at our next Zoom reception or pop-up concert and hope you’ll enjoy the wonderful music we will soon be sending your way.
Christopher James Ray is a conductor with a diverse background in both traditional and contemporary operatic works. He is currently Resident Conductor at Opera San José and an assistant with the San Francisco Symphony. In 2017, Christopher joined the music staff of the renowned Bayreuth Festival where he worked on productions of Der Fliegende Holländer, Lohengrin, Götterdämmerung, Tristan und Isolde, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, and Parsifal.
In the 2020-21 season, Christopher will conduct performances of Opera San José’s Le Nozze di Figaro, Carmen, Salome, and West Side Story. Recent performances at Opera San José have included Il trovatore, Hansel and Gretel, Die Fledermaus, Heggie/Scheer’s Moby Dick, and Pagliacci.
Christopher made his professional conducting debut leading a double bill of Gianni Schicchi and Pagliacci with the Mississippi Opera in 2014. Later that year he conducted performances of Cosi fan tutte, Suor Angelica, and Gianni Schicchi with Opera in the Ozarks. Additional conducting credits include Copland’s The Tender Land, Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte Handel’s Alcina, Nico Muhly’s Dark Sisters, Heggie’s Three Decembers, Glass’s In the Penal Colony, and Britten’s The Beggar’s Opera.
As assistant conductor, Christopher has worked with the Salzburg State Theater (Brokeback Mountain), North Carolina Opera (La bohème, Così fan tutte, Le nozze di Figaro), Sarasota Opera (Le nozze di Figaro, Don Carlos), Opera on the James (Carmen), Opera on the Avalon (Die Zauberflöte), Syracuse Opera (Die Fledermaus) as well as the Memphis Symphony and Portland (ME) Symphony.
A protege of American composer Carlisle Floyd, Christopher is a sought-after interpreter of Floyd’s works. In addition to serving as the assistant to the composer, Christopher recorded an album of Floyd’s songs with the celebrated mezzo-soprano Susanne Mentzer. It is available through GPR Records on the Naxos label.
Mr. Ray is native of Sumrall, Mississippi and is a graduate of Florida State University where he studied with Douglas Fisher and Carlisle Floyd.