B I O G R A P H Y
One of the most sought-after musicians in the Pacific Northwest, French conductor, composer and guitarist Christophe Chagnard is an all-around artist acclaimed for his finely etched performances and charismatic approach to music. Equally versed in a vast repertoire of chamber, symphonic, operatic and ballet works of all styles and periods, Chagnard has gained a reputation as an insatiable conductor who can do it all.
As co-founder of Northwest Sinfonietta in 1991, Chagnard has built what the Seattle Post-Intelligencer calls “the finest chamber orchestra in the Northwest." Chagnard performs regularly with some of the biggest names in music, including Lynn Harrell, Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, Cecile Licad, Richard Stoltzman, Awadagin Pratt and Lara St. John. Chagnard is also Music Director of the Lake Union Civic Orchestra whose notable projects included a collaboration with legendary actor Michael York on the Hovhaness Centennial Celebration at Benaroya Hall and a highly acclaimed performance of Mahler’s 5th Symphony at Meany Hall.
Chagnard is equally versed in opera with acclaimed performances of Don Giovanni, The Abduction from the Seraglio, Dido and Aneas, La Bohème, Tosca and Madame Butterfly. Chagnard also led many ballet productions including The Nutcracker, Cinderella, Swan Lake, and Stravinsky’s Danses Concertantes. His international guest appearances include performances in Russia, Japan and Cuba.
Chagnard’s awards include the 2006 ArtsFund Outstanding Achievement in the Arts Award, the Richard Levy Award for outstanding musicianship for three consecutive years and the Sigma Alpha Iota National Arts Associate Award. In 2012, Washington State Governor Christine Gregoire proclaimed October 5, Northwest Sinfonietta Day.
His recording credits include Mozart’s Symphonies No.40 and 41, Musical Gems I and II and Passionate Puccini, live with the Northwest Sinfonietta, Piano Concertos No.23 and 25 with Mark Salman on the Immortal Classics label, Debussy’s Danses Sacrée et profane with Isabelle Perrin on the First Impression Music label. In August 2013, he recorded a rare selection of dances for piano and orchestra with pianist Joel Fan for the prestigious Reference Recording label. Chagnard is also a prolific composer whose works have been heard widely across North America and in Europe. In 2010, his ground-breaking composition Opre Roma! for three gypsy jazz guitars and orchestra was critically acclaimed and performed repeatedly in the U.S. and Cuba. His most recent work Embargo, Suite Cubana was premiered in April 2013 as a vibrant tribute to Cuban music and culture. He is currently working on a new commission Terra Nostra to be based on climate change that will be premiered in June of 2015.
As a lecturer, coach and educator, Chagnard has been featured on NPR’s Performance Today and broadcast regularly over the past 20 years on KING FM and KCTS9 in Seattle. He gives numerous lectures each year on musicology, history and leadership and presents pre-concert lectures to children and adult audiences alike. In October 2014, he was the keynote speaker for the American academy of Arts and Science The Heart of the Matter Conference in Seattle.
When he is not on the podium or composing, Chagnard can be found playing jazz guitar with the highly experimental and popular TOUCHÉ quintet which he founded. This eclectic band specializes in gypsy jazz as well as original repertoire and was recently featured at the Lakeshore Jazz Festival in Tempe, Arizona, on the documentaries Raising the Bar, KCTS 9 Pie show, NPR’s Performance Today, WBUR Boston, KING FM Seattle live broadcasts and Musical Chairs.
Chagnard received his musical training in composition and conducting from Berklee College of Music and New England Conservatory where he studied with Frank Battisti, Benjamin Zander and Pascal Verrot and graduated with Academic Honors. From 1992 to 1994, Chagnard served on the faculty of the Berklee College of Music and in 1993; he became the first Music Director of the New England String Ensemble in Boston. He also served as Director of Orchestras at the University of Puget Sound from 2001 to 2012.
A gifted communicator, Chagnard draws audiences into a piece of music with a direct approach that is compelling and distinctly his own. He has been praised by The News Tribune as an “intensely musical conductor given sometimes to attempting unconventional performances." Chagnard brings the finely-honed sensibilities of the chamber musician to orchestral performance. His commitment to music of our time, cross-genre collaborations, a keen interest in mentoring and encouraging young musicians, and an easy manner in front of audiences help make him the complete musician.
B I O G R A P H Y