Christopher Zimmerman – biography

Reviewing Christopher Zimmerman’s concert with the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra in May 2009, Mark Estren of The Washington Post writes, “(In Shostakovich’s Tenth Symphony) Zimmerman pushed the strings, especially in the quicksilver second movement, and they delivered beautifully. And he paid close attention not only to sarcasm and grotesquerie but also to soft passages — this orchestra can handle quietude, but few conductors ask it to.”  Zimmerman’s direction of the orchestra led to his appointment as its new Music Director, where he is about to begin his 6th season.  In the words of Anne Midgette, chief art critic of the Washington Post: “The Fairfax Symphony Orchestra is evidently more willing to push the envelope…Zimmerman’s energy and good will showed their best effect in the Bernstein…It was a note-perfect end to a very refreshing evening that spoke well for the programming vision of Zimmerman who just extended his Fairfax contract for another three years.”  No wonder, then, that the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra, under Christopher Zimmerman, was honored as 2013 winner of the Best Classical Orchestra Ensemble by WAMA  (Washington Area Musical Awards).

Building on a career leading regional orchestras in the US and England, this most recent post confirms what critics and audiences alike have experienced attending Zimmerman’s concerts. From his professional debut, with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, of which The Daily Telegraph of London observed “Contact with the orchestra seemed immediate, the result a reading in which the playing responded keenly to gestures which themselves were expressive both of the symphony’s fiery vigour and of its finer nuances. Christopher Zimmerman revealed a sharp interpretative profile and control of orchestral timbre…. a most auspicious London debut.” to guest conducting in Cleveland with the Ohio Chamber Orchestra, where Donald Rosenberg of the Cleveland Plain Dealer described his performance as “some of the finest conducting at Severance (Hall) in recent years,” Zimmerman elicits enthusiasm and praise.

Christopher Zimmerman graduated from Yale with a B.A. in Music, and received his Master’s from the University of Michigan. He also studied with Seiji Ozawa and Gunther Schuller at Tanglewood, and at the Pierre Monteux School in Maine with Charles Bruck. Zimmerman served as an apprentice to Andrew Davis and the Toronto Symphony and in Prague, as assistant conductor to Vaclav Neumann and the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra.

Zimmerman’s debut with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra was followed by engagements with the London Symphony Orchestra and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic. He has since conducted orchestras all over the world–the Prague Symphony, the Slovak Philharmonic, the Turku Philharmonic, the Seoul Philharmonic, the Mexico City Philharmonic, the  Caracas Philharmonic, National Orchestra of Rio de Janeiro, the Shenzhen Symphony, the Xiamen Symphony–to name a few.  In opera he has worked as the assistant conductor for “Carmen” at the Nimes Festival and as assistant conductor for “Salome” at the Mexico City Opera where he was re-invited to conduct a full production of “Gianni Schicchi” the following season. His U.S. operatic debut conducting  Carlisle Floyd’s  “Susannah” won the National Opera Association’s First prize as did Bright Sheng’s “Song of Majnun”, which he also led. Zimmerman’s operatic repertoire is as diverse as it has proven successful, from Handel’s “Julius Caesar” through Verdi, Puccini, Strauss and Sheng.

Prior to his appointment to the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra, Christopher Zimmerman was Music Director of the Symphony of Southeast Texas, the Bangor Symphony Orchestra and the City of London Chamber Orchestra.  His career has also embraced teaching and working with student orchestras and conductors; in 1993 he joined the conducting faculty at the College-Conservatory of Music in Cincinnati where he was Music Director of their concert orchestra, and in 1999 he was appointed as Fuller Professor of Orchestral Studies at the Hartt School as well as Music Director of the Hartt Symphony.  A much sought after clinician and pedagogue, Mr. Zimmerman continues to teach at workshops and festivals around the world.

Christopher Zimmerman is committed to performing music by living composers and he has premiered over 35 works for orchestra by names such as William Bolcom, Martin Bresnick, Avner Dorman, Bright Sheng, Christopher Rouse, Ellen Taafe Zwilich and Judith Weir.  On July 4, 2012, Mr. Zimmerman gave the world premiere of “Lingua Angelorum”  by Czech composer Sylvie Bodorova, a 50 minute song-cycle with the internationally renowned baritone Thomas Hampson and the Prague Symphony Orchestra.  On his upcoming schedule are premieres by Christopher Theofanidis and Jonathan Leshnoff.

Christopher Zimmerman was recognized as the winner of the American Conducting Prize in 2011, an award given for nationwide performances by orchestral conductors, choral conductors, and a host of other categories. Such recognition of his abilities has been born out in appointments to the Music Directorship of the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony (2013-) and Artistic Directorship of the American Youth Philharmonic Orchestras (2014-2017).