William Christie
Musical director

© Denis Rouvre

William Christie, harpsichordist, conductor, musicologist, and teacher, is a pioneer in the rediscovery of Baroque music. Born in Buffalo, and educated at Harvard and Yale, William Christie has lived in France since 1971. The turning point in his career came in 1979, when he founded Les Arts Florissants, a vocal and instrumental ensemble. Major public recognition came in 1987 with the production of Lully’s Atys at the Opéra Comique in Paris, which then went on to tour internationally to huge success.
From Charpentier to Rameau, through Couperin, Mondonville, Campra, or Montéclair, William Christie is the uncontested master of tragédie-lyrique as well as opéra-ballet, and is just as comfortable with the French motet as with music of the court. But his affection for French music does not preclude him from exploring other European repertoires (Monteverdi, Rossi, Scarlatti, Landi, Purcell, Handel, Mozart, Haydn). William Christie’s particularly busy operatic career has been marked by numerous collaborations with renowned theater and opera directors (including Jean-Marie Villégier, Robert Carsen, Alfredo Arias, Jorge Lavelli, Graham Vick, Adrian Noble, Andrei Serban, Luc Bondy and Deborah Warner). As a guest conductor, he often appears at opera festivals such as Glyndebourne (notably Hippolyte et Aricie in the summer of 2013) or at opera houses such as the Metropolitan Opera of New York, the Zurich Opernhaus, or the Opéra National de Lyon. Between 2002 and 2007, he regularly appeared as a guest conductor with the Berlin Philharmonic.
His extensive discography (more than 100 recordings, many of which have won awards and distinctions in France and abroad) with Harmonia Mundi, Warner Classics/Erato and Virgin Classics reflects the richness of his artistic ventures. In a career of over 40 years, William Christie has brought to the limelight several generations of singers and instrumentalists. A professor at the Paris Conservatoire from 1982 to 1995, he was in charge of the early-music class, and is now often invited to give master classes or lead academies such as those at Aix-en-Provence and Ambronay.
Since 2007 he has been artist in residence at the Juilliard School of Music in New York. Wishing to develop further his work as a teacher, in 2002 William Christie created, with Les Arts Florissants, a biennial academy for young singers, Le Jardin des Voix, whose finalists take part in an international tour with Les Arts Florissants that acts as a launchpad for their careers. Among the talents discovered by William Christie through Le Jardin des Voix are Sonya Yoncheva, Christophe Dumaux, Emmanuelle de Negri, Marc Mauillon and Amel Brahim-Djelloul. A true garden enthusiast, William Christie launched the music festival Dans les Jardins de William Christie in 2012.
William Christie acquired French nationality in 1995. In November 2008, he was elected to France’s Académie des Beaux-Arts, and gave his official inaugural speech under the dome of the Institut de France in January 2010. He is also an honorary member of the Royal Academy of Music in London.

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