Samuel Cristler, conductor, made his debut at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City on March 11, 1992 conducting Verdi’s Don Carlo. The occasion coincided with the 125th anniversary of its world premiere in Paris (March 11, 1867).
Mr. Cristler went on to Israel to lead Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro, and in Spain, Richard Strauss’ Salomé. At the MET, he was reengaged to conduct productions of Verdi’s Aida and La Traviata, and Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. Also, a special honor was the “Live from Lincoln Center” television broadcast from the MET for the world premiere of John Corigliano’s The Ghosts of Versailles, in which he appeared as both harpsichordist and conductor.
In the symphonic repertoire, Mr. Cristler has established himself with concerts in North America and Europe. At age twenty-eight, he founded Sinfonia San Francisco, which grew to become the Bay Area’s preeminent chamber orchestra, and was broadcast on National Public Radio. In his last year with SSF, it was awarded coveted a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Unique presentations during his San Francisco years included performances of Shostakovich’s The Nose, Bach’s Saint Matthew Passion (presented by the Hewlett family as a benefit for Grace Cathedral), and a performance at the Stern Grove festival in which he chose to conduct its first-ever educational concert for kids. His favorite week in the Bay Area consisted of conducting three performances of Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman, followed by accompanying an all-Schumann song recital on the piano, followed by conducting an all-Beethoven orchestral concert. He frequently championed music by prominent Bay Area composers, such as Andrew Imbrie, Gordon Getty and Alan Cox, and he also programmed works by promising student composers. He led numerous Bay Area premieres, including Prokofiev’s opera The Love for Three Oranges, Shostakovich’s The Nose, numerous works by Kurt Weill, in addition to the Schoenberg/ Riehn orchestration of Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde.
While in California, Mr. Cristler also was also Music Director of West Bay Opera, the Oakland Orchestra, and he was credited with saving the Oakland Symphony Chorus when the Oakland Symphony became insolvent. In New York City, Mr. Cristler appeared as conductor at the Manhattan School of Music. He also was called to substitute for the legendary Maestro Mstislav Rostropovich as conductor of 100 cellists at the International Cello Congress.
As self-taught pianist, Mr. Cristler has accompanied both instrumentalists and singers, including an acclaimed series of song recitals in San Francisco.
Now playing: Schubert Symphony No. 9, 4th movement, Samuel Cristler conducting Sinfonia San Francisco
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