Christian Reif

Music Director, San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra
Resident Conductor, San Francisco Symphony


One of the most promising conducting talents of his generation, German-born Christian Reif is Resident Conductor of the San Francisco Symphony and Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra. He took up the role in San Francisco in September 2016 following two seasons in Miami as Conducting Fellow with the New World Symphony, working closely with Michael Tilson Thomas.

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Facing an unfamiliar ensemble, Reif lost no time in bringing out the flair and elegant vitality of Beethoven’s score. He built up reserves of potential energy in the slow introduction, only to unleash them in a taut, hard-driven account of the first movement itself. He shaped the slow movement sleekly but tenderly, and brought explosive vigor without bluster to the scherzo. The finale, tightly coiled yet moving forward with an almost improvisatory sense of freedom, was the capper to a thoroughly dynamic performance. No doubt about it, Reif is a remarkable talent.

Joshua Kosman

The San Francisco Chronicle

But to think that would be to reckon without the technical assurance and forceful interpretive prowess that this young German has repeatedly displayed over the past two years. He’s a conductor of considerable stature, and everything about Thursday’s concert in Davies Symphony Hall felt like the work of a significant musical artist.

Reif’s mastery extended to matters both large and small. He showed no diffidence about managing weighty blocks of orchestral sound, and he fine-tuned passages of detailed instrumental filigree with the deftness of an artisanal craftsman. (Nothing on the program called much for a mastery of long-range symphonic architecture, but I’m content to wait patiently for Reif’s take on Bruckner.)

And although podium technique can sometimes be an unreliable visual guide to a conductor’s musical artistry, there is a balletic quality to Reif’s physical presence — at once fluid and well-defined — that corresponds well with the qualities he elicits from an orchestral score.

Joshua Kosman

The San Francisco Chronicle


Bridget Canniere - European and Australia/New Zealand Management
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