Born in Belfast, Ireland, conductor Christopher Bell was educated at Edinburgh University. He held his first post as associate conductor of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and has subsequently conducted such orchestras as the Royal Philharmonic, London Philharmonic, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, City of London Sinfonia, RTÉ National Symphony, RTÉ Concert Orchestra, and the Bournemouth Symphony. In 1988 Mr. Bell made his debut with the Ulster Orchestra in performances of Handel’s Messiah and has since appeared regularly with the orchestra, conducting concerts throughout Northern Ireland.
He has conducted choral and orchestral performances at the Chicago Grant Park Music Festival, where he has been Chorus Director since 2002. During his tenure he and the chorus have been recipients of Chorus America’s Margaret Hillis Award for Choral Excellence. In addition to his many concerts and recordings with the Grant Park Chorus, Mr. Bell has performed and recorded with the Opera Australia Chorus, the Netherlands Radio Choir, the RTVE Choir in Madrid. He most recently gave a performance of Haydn’s The Creation with the Finnish Radio Symphony and Choir.
Mr. Bell was principal guest conductor of the State Orchestra of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia from 1998 to 2000, chorus master of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra from 1989 and 2002, and he was the first artistic director of the Edinburgh Royal Choral Union. He became Music Director of the Washington Chorus in Washington DC in 2017. He makes his San Francisco Symphony debut at these performances.
In 2001, Mr. Bell received a Scotsman of the Year Award for Creative Talent in appreciation for his work with singers, and in 2003, he was awarded the Sir Charles Groves Prize for his contribution to cultural life in Scotland and throughout the UK. In May 2009, he received an honorary master's degree from the Open University for Services to the Arts and November 2012 was awarded an honorary Doctor of Music degree from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland for services to singing in Scotland.