Getting to Know Guest Conductor Christopher Dragon

Australian conductor Christopher Dragon, Music Director of the Wyoming Symphony Orchestra and Resident Conductor of the Colorado Symphony, returns this weekend to the San Diego Symphony to guest conduct a weekend of exciting programming at The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park. Read more about Christopher below: 

1.  How did you decide you wanted to be a conductor?

Back in University I studied clarinet but there was something about conducting that always interested me - whenever I would go to a symphony concert I would be transfixed on the conductor. Also, playing in orchestra I would hear certain things in other sections, but it wasn't really my place as a clarinetist sitting up the back of the orchestra to address/comment on those - I wanted to have more of an input to the overall music making. So, to get an idea of it, I put together my own orchestra consisting of friends from the two music universities in Western Australia and staged a concert. I was a bit nuts to do this looking back on it now, but luckily it wasn't a disaster and set me on my conducting path.

2.  You’ve guested with many great symphonies around the world; how does one get the opportunity to guest? What do you find is different, challenging, exciting about being a guest conductor?

The opportunity to guest conduct I believe builds over time - hopefully your name will start to be on the radar of orchestras from the more concerts you conduct. It's always difficult guesting with a new orchestra; it's a little bit like a first date not knowing if there is going to be chemistry or if things are going to work out. However, I've been very fortunate to conduct the San Diego Symphony regularly and absolutely love returning to make music with them - it is like returning to see friends!

3.  What is the most memorable conducting memory you’ve had?

It's hard to pinpoint a singular conducting highlight as I've been lucky enough to make music with many fantastic orchestras around the world and collaborate with a wide variety of legendary artists, but a few special highlights that I still think about today include my debut at the Sydney Opera House with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, my first time conducting at Red Rocks with the Colorado Symphony which was my second ever concert with them after winning a position with the orchestra) and of course the first time conducting at The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park with the San Diego Symphony - All of them are unbelievable venues to make music!

4.  You will be conducting the San Diego Symphony in both Tchaikovsky Spectacular and The Music of Selena this weekend at The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park. What would you like audiences to know before they go? 

Tchaikovsky Spectacular and The Music of Selena are two very different programs, but I see the role of the conductor being the same - we are trying to cover all of the material thoroughly in rehearsal so we can give the best performance possible. My goal is to make something exciting happen onstage! And, whether it's Tchaikovsky or Selena, I say come, because you're bound to have a good time and hear some great music either way! From the variety of this weekend’s concerts alone, you can see that the San Diego Symphony truly is for everyone!

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