“Christopher Rountree conducted with elegant clarity.”

Corinna da Fonesca-Wollheim

New York Times

“Christopher Rountree, wild Up’s Artistic Director conducted with infectious enthusiasm… It was magnificent.”

Mark Swed

Los Angeles Times

“Searing. Penetrating. Thrilling.”

Fred Child

Performance Today

“All the performances, led by Rountree, were exceptional, the ensemble turning on an astonishing stylistic dime. This group really has come a long way — technically, intellectually, emotionally and technologically.  . . . on Saturday night, the future of classical music – of all music – seemed in the right new hands.”

Mark Swed

Los Angeles Times

Four women washing blood out of rags in a bathroom; Stravinsky in an abandoned warehouse; a violinist cutting himself out of duct tape with a razor; a lost John Adams suite at Walt Disney Concert Hall. Conductor and composer Christopher Rountree is standing at the intersection of classical music, new music, performance art and pop.

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.”

If there is a dam separating establishment classical music from more adventurous forms, Rountree finds himself spilling over both sides – conducting Opera Omaha here, and writing experimental metal  for the group gnarwhallaby there.

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.

In the 2013-14 season, Rountree debuted on the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Green Umbrella series, and with the San Diego Symphony, the Colorado Symphony, the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, and Ensemble LPR. He conducted the San Francisco Conservatory Orchestra’s performance of The Rite of Spring on the work’s centenary. He’s conducted a litany of great ensembles and festivals in the last few years including the Brooklyn Philharmonic; Monday Evening Concerts; the Prototype Festival; Beth Morrison Projects; the American Composers Orchestra; the Michigan Pops Orchestra; the Winnipeg Symphony; Bohuslav Martinu Philharmonic; American Youth Symphony; Cabrillo Festival Orchestra and the Rose City Chamber Orchestra. With his eclectic style and resume, he’s been tapped to curate events for contemporary art institutions,  including  Getty Museum, MCA Denver,  and the Hammer Museum, where a long-running wild Up residency brought the group to national prominence.

Through it all, Rountree is guided by his vision of a more engaging classical music culture that blows up the old boxes.

“I don’t have enough tattoos to be the badboy provocateur of classical music,” Rountree jokes. “But is the goal to nuke the artform and build something new? That is exactly what we’re doing.”

The performances all evening were impressive both technically and for their unabashed spirit. Rountree punches out rhythms as if they were going out of style. He emphasizes outsize emotions. He could probably get an audience to dance to the slowest movement Shostakovich ever wrote.

Mark Swed

Los Angeles Times




Current Projects

LA PHIL NEXT ON GRAND COMPOSITION INTENSIVE.  ten young composers, a bunch of master teachers
los angeles: wild up and the la phil, may 2015
conductor / teacher

SPACE BETWEEN US ALL.  ives, bernstein
la jolla: the la jolla symphony, may 2015
guest conductor

FILIGREE.  kallmyer, mcintosh, ferneyhough, pesson, lewis, whitney houston
ucla: wild up, april 2015
conductor / artistic director

SAN FRANCISCO SYMPHONY / SOUNDBOX.  their own devices: hearne, ianotta, adams, wohl, perich
san francisco: san francisco symphony, april 2015
guest conductor / artistic director

PACIFIC SYMPHONY + WILD UP.  dessner, dowland, norman, shostakovich
santa ana: pacific symphony and wild up, feb 2015
guest conductor / artistic director

FIRST TAKE.  yuval sharon, mark lowenstein
beverly hills: the industry, feb 2015

A FLOWERING TREE. john adams, james darrah – director
omaha: opera omaha / omaha symphony, feb 2015
music director / conductor

LA PHIL GREEN UMBRELLA / THEATRE OF THE OUTRAGEOUS.  john adams, james darrah – director
los angeles: los angeles philharmonic, jan 2015
cover conductor

IN THE MIDST OF THINGS. allora & calzadilla, the crossing
philadelphia: philadelphia museum of art, dec 2014 – april 15

john zorn, debussy, julia holter, satie, nick deyoe, esquivel, and sun ra
santa barbara arts & lectures: wild Up, nov 2014
artistic director / conductor

messiaen, scelsi, john coltrane, nick deyoe, and rountree world premiere pasadena conservatory of music / CalTech:
wild Up, oct 2014
artistic director / conductor

OPEN. j.s. bach, chopin, satie, tenney, l.v. beethoven
hollywood: the ford theatre / ezralow dance / wild Up, sept 2014
artistic director / conductor

los angeles: los angeles chamber orchestra / wild Up, sept 2014  to sept 2017
artistic director / conductor

WITH BJORK’S CHOIR IN REYKJAVIK. with jodie landu, rountree world premiere
reykjavik, iceland: graduale nobili and jodie landau, aug 2014
guest conductor / composer

WORK | MAGGIE HASSPACHER. folk tunes, rountree world premiere
pasadena: boston court / wild Up, july 2014
artistic director / conductor

THE GETTY | FUZZY GRIDS II with Predock_Frane architects
bretwood: the getty center, july 2014
sound artist / composer

NATIVE STRATEGIES. conducting as movement as art
hollywood: LACE, july 17 2014
sound artist / conductor

santa barbara: music academy of the west, july 2014
guest conductor

CONCERT FOR HANS AND MARGUERITE. a concert for two elephants: gluck, haydn, rountree world premiere
los angeles: redcat / wild Up, june 2014
artistic director / conductor

los angeles: grand park, 12pm june 13th 2014
guest lecturer – the storm as a classical device

ENSEMBLE LPR. britten, mozart, andres, hearne
new york: ensemble LPR, may 2014
guest conductor

Past Projects


2013 – 2014


GREEN UMBRELLA: MAXIMUM MINIMALISM. eastman, adams, mcintosh
los angeles: LA Philharmonic / ICE / wild Up, april 2014
guest conductor

ATE9 | MOUTH TO MOUTH. dance collaboration, jodie landau
santa ana: ate9 /wild Up, april 2014
artistic director / conductor

FIRST FRIDAYS | SAN FERMIN. a show under a brontosaurus, a show with san fermin
los angeles: los angeles natural history museum / kcrw / san fermin /  wild Up, feb 2014
artistic director / conductor

WILD UP AT THE SANTORA. we took over a building and played 40 small concerts
santa ana: wild Up, feb 2014
artistic director / conductor

DINNER IN FIVE PARTS | LITTLE SPARROW. five courses, playlists, pairings
santa ana: wild Up, feb 2014
artistic director / conductor

WORK | ELLEN REID a new odysseus, words – mandy kahn, music – ellen reid
los angeles: wild Up, feb 2014
artistic director / conductor

PROTOTYPE FESTIVAL | VISITATIONS.  rinde eckhardt, mark dechiazza, jonathan berger, beth morrison
brooklyn: jack quartet / ny polyphony / beth morrison projects, jan 2014
music director

WORK | MOHAMMED FAIROUZ.  a new pierrot lunaire
los angeles: wild Up, dec 2013
artistic director / conductor

OUTLIERS.  tywoniuk, valitutto, tholl, lutoslawski, zappa
los angeles: the colburn conservatory /wild Up, nov 2013
artistic director / conductor

los angeles: los angeles chamber orchestra, nov 2013
guest conductor

WORK | ANDREW MCINTOSH.  new pieces, old pieces
los angeles: wild Up, oct 2013
artistic director / conductor

SAN DIEGO SYMPHONY | YOUNG PEOPLES CONCERT. of time travel and re-appropriation
san diego: san diego symphony, oct 2013
guest conductor

CHURCH SESSIONS | JULIA HOLTER. a show in a courtyard
los angeles: wild Up, sept 2013
artistic director / conductor

denver: colorado symphony / mca denver, july 2013
guest conductor

VISITATIONS.  rinde eckhardt, mark dechiazza, jonathan berger, beth morrison
brooklyn: st. lawrence quartet / ny polyphony / beth morrison projects, april 2013
music director

FIRST TAKE | WEST COAST OPERA WORKSHOP. with director yuval sharon
los angeles: the industry / wild Up, may 2013
co-founder / artistic director / conductor

stravinsky, wolf, dukas – le sacre on its centenary
los angeles: san francisco conservatory orchestra, april 2013
guest conductor

longstreth, du yun, varese, j.s. bach, jacob cooper, andrew norman, matt marks, david t. little
los angeles: wild Up, april 2013
artistic director / conductor

los angeles: wild Up, january 2013
artistic director / conductor

messiaen, ferneyhough, maceda, baes, xenakis
los angeles: monday evening concerts /wild Up, january 2013
artistic director / conductor

an opera by lewis pesacov and elizabeth cline
los angeles: wild Up, december 2012
artistic director / conductor