2014 MICF resident composer Christopher Weiss may have been born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire and grown up in the northeast, but as it turns out, his musical beginnings have a connection to the Show-Me State.
His paternal grandfather, a fisheries biologist here in Missouri, was an amateur violin-maker who enjoyed experimenting by constructing violins using unconventional woods. When Christopher was five, his grandfather presented him with a handmade, one-quarter-size violin, and he began taking his first music lessons.
Christopher taught himself to play the piano at age 12, and first developed an interest in composing during high school, going on to earn degrees from Rollins College in Florida and the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia.
For the MICF, Christopher has written a new work called “Colors of the Waking Earth,” which will be performed by Alarm Will Sound as part of the festival’s grand finale concert next Saturday, July 26 at the Missouri Theatre.
In other recent performances, Act II of his opera “In a Mirror, Darkly” was presented in May as part of the Fort Worth Opera’s Frontiers series of new works, with Tyson Deaton conducting; and his work “Three New Hampshire Postcards,” was performed earlier this year for a Rutgers University faculty recital by Bart Feller (flute), Rebecca Young (viola) and Stacey Shames (harp).
Christopher’s music has been hailed by the New York Times as “wonderfully fluid [with a] cinematic grasp of mood and lighting.” He has received commissions and performances from the Huntsville Symphony, Jacksonville Symphony, the Boston Chamber Orchestra, the Lancaster Symphony, the Washington Metropolitan Philharmonic, the Columbia Orchestra, and the Curtis Symphony Orchestra. He has been Composer-in-Residence at Twickenham Fest and Young Composer-in-Residence at Music from Angel Fire.
His opera “In a Mirror, Darkly,” written with librettist S. O’Duinn Magee, was awarded a Domenic J. Pellicciotti Prize by SUNY Potsdam. Excerpts from the opera have been performed by the New York City Opera at their VOX showcase; at the John Duffy Composer Institute as part of the Virginia Arts Festival; and by the Fort Worth Opera, and will be presented by the Crane Opera Ensemble and Orchestra in November at SUNY Potsdam.
Christopher has been in residence at Yaddo, the Brush Creek Foundation for the Arts, and the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center. He was a recipient of a Theodore Presser Foundation Career Grant, and was the youngest competitor ever to win the Jacksonville Symphony’s “Fresh Ink” competition. His music has been played on many local radio stations and was featured on American Public Media’s “Performance Today.”
Christopher also is active as a professional music copyist and publisher and has produced scores for G. Schirmer, the Washington National Opera, the Spoleto Festival USA, the Huntsville Symphony, and composers Marvin Hamlisch and Torrie Zito, among others. He also works as a freelance arranger for choirs, orchestras, and other performing organizations.
You can learn more about Christopher Weiss and hear samples of his music at his website.