Christian Reif

German conductor Christian Reif joins the San Francisco Symphony as Resident Conductor and Wattis Foundation Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra (SFSYO) in the 2016-17 season. In this role, he assists Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas and guest conductors with subscription concerts, touring, semi-staged productions, recordings, and other special projects, in addition to conducting the San Francisco Symphony in selected Concerts for Kids, Adventures in Music, and Music for Families concerts, which annually draw more than 26,000 young people and their families from throughout the Bay Area to Davies Symphony Hall. He made his San Francisco Symphony debut in September 2015 leading the West Coast premiere of Ted Hearne’s Dispatches. He recently completed two seasons as conducting fellow with the New World Symphony in Miami, where he was mentored by Michael Tilson Thomas.

A Burgeoning Career

In 2014, Christian Reif completed his master of music in conducting at the Juilliard School under Alan Gilbert, where he received the Charles Schiff Conducting Award. He also studied with Dennis Russell Davies at the Mozarteum Salzburg.  

Summer 2015 saw Mr. Reif conduct the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra in several world premieres as part of Tanglewood’s 75th anniversary summer, which led to his appointment as a Tanglewood conducting fellow for the summer of 2016. During that appointment, stepped in for Seiji Ozawa, conducting the Seiji Ozawa International Academy Switzerland. He has also worked as assistant and cover conductor for the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Boston Symphony Orchestra and in 2014, he served as assistant conductor for Alan Gilbert at the New York Philharmonic Biennial. Mr. Reif won the German Operetta Prize 2015, awarded by the German Music Council. He is currently a member of Germany's Conductor's Forum (Dirigentenforum).

Highlights of Mr. Reif’s 2015-16 season included leading the Munich Chamber Opera in performances of Mozart’s La finta semplice in Munich’s Cuvilliés Theater and performing with the Meininger Hofkapelle. As part of efforts to bridge cultures through music, he led the Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz in the world premiere of Mehmet C. Yesilçay's Lieder aus der Fremde, which addresses the current European refugee crisis. Mr. Reif has led several orchestras and ensembles both in the US and abroad such as the Lakes Area Music Festival Orchestra, Juilliard Orchestra, Salzburg Chamber Soloists, Georgian Chamber Orchestra, and the Israel Chamber Orchestra. He has performed with soloists including Dawn Upshaw, Sanford Sylvan, Julia Bullock and Barbara Bonney.

A Range of Interests

Mr. Reif’s enthusiasm in performing contemporary music has led to many world premiere performances, including Michael Gordon’s El Sol Caliente, a city symphony in honor of Miami Beach’s centennial; Ted Hearne’s Dispatches, part of the New Voices project, which Mr. Reif led both in Miami and in San Francisco; and concertos for DJ and orchestra, performed at the New World Symphony’s PULSE events, when the concert hall is transformed into a nightclub.

A dedicated and enthusiastic educator, Mr. Reif has taught piano, coached instrumentalists and worked with singers as a répétiteur. He has also worked as a teaching fellow at the Juilliard School. He hosted and conducted the New World Symphony’s education concerts in 2014 and 2016, which were also broadcasted globally online.

Youth Orchestra Concerts

The SFS Youth Orchestra performs three concerts each season, and takes part in special events and celebrations throughout the year.

Find SFS Youth Orchestra Concerts