Chris Wild's performances have been lauded as "insatiable" (New York Times), resulting from his enthusiastic pursuit of musical connections. As a conductor, he recently concluded a four year tenure leading the Andrews University Symphony Orchestra, culminating in a performance of Death & Transfiguration and the world premiere of James Lee III's Teshuah. Now based in Indianapolis, he is Artistic Director & Conductor of central Indiana's Wabash Valley Youth Symphony and conductor of the Purdue University Orchestra. As a guest conductor, he has led the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, South Bend Symphony Orchestra, Oregon Bach Festival Orchestra & Chorus, Peninsula Music Festival (Wisconsin), Windsor Symphony Orchestra (Canada), Illinois Valley Symphony Orchestra, and Camerata Antonio Soler (Spain). Chris' entry into music was through the cello, and he continues to perform around the globe as a soloist and chamber musician. He is a member of the Chicago-based Ensemble Dal Niente, described as a "superb contemporary-music collective" (New York Times). Recent performances have taken him to Walt Disney Concert Hall, Millennium Park's Pritzker Pavilion, Symphony Center (Chicago), Teatro Colón (Argentina), and the Palacio de Bellas Artes (Mexico). Also a dedicated teacher, Chris has guided cello students at Andrews University and the University of Notre Dame, and designed a variety of educational experiences for young musicians.
Chris began his cello studies at the age of five in British Columbia, Canada, where he would later win first place in the strings category of the Canadian Music Competition. He moved stateside to attend the University of Michigan, where he studied with Erling Blöndal Bengtsson and Richard Aaron and won first place in the school's Concerto Competition. While at Michigan, he also developed interests in conducting and music education, recognizing their potential for engaging with new listeners. After establishing himself as a musician based in Chicago, Chris returned to graduate school to complete a DMA in Orchestral Conducting at Northwestern University, where he conducted performances with the university’s Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra, Bienen Strings, Opera, and Music Academy Chorus while studying with Victor Yampolsky. He also joined with peers to form Après L'Histoire, mounting staged performances of Igor Stravinsky's L'Histoire du soldat at the Poetry Foundation and The Arts Club of Chicago during the composition's centennial year, and commissioning new works to premiere alongside it. Completion of Chris' doctoral studies also included a minor in musicology and the final project "Charles Ives' Three Places in New England: an Interpretation and a Conducting Guide," available through ProQuest online.
Chris has appeared as a concerto soloist with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra (Canada), Third Coast Percussion (Chicago), Experimental Sound Studio SWR (Germany), University of Michigan Philharmonia Orchestra, and recently led the Andrews University Symphony Orchestra in a performance of Haydn’s Cello Concerto No.2, visible on YouTube. His debut cello album, Abhanden, is described by New Music Box as "a virtuosic tour-de-force for solo cello... Wild's approach to the material is soaring, lyrical, and bold... confirms that Wild is not only an exciting performer to watch, but also a wise programmer and collaborator." His performances with Ensemble Dal Niente have taken him to Europe and South America and included the premieres of hundreds of new compositions. He can be heard on the New Amsterdam, New Focus, New World, Navona, Naxos, and Carrier record labels. A versatile performer, Chris has recently performed as a cellist with the Euclid String Quartet, with fiddler Mark O'Connor, as cello continuo with the Bienen Contemporary/Early Vocal Ensemble, in improvisations with guitarist Gabriel Datcu, with members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for MusicNow, and as an annual member of the Walden School Players each summer.
Chris' work as a conductor grew out of a passion for accessibility and music advocacy. Recently, he has begun sharing his love for music in the YouTube video series Great Moments in Orchestral History and through teaching in the music department at Andrews University. His conducting experience also includes serving as Assistant Conductor of the Peninsula Music Festival, Cover Conductor for the South Bend Symphony Orchestra, Assistant Conductor of the Northwestern University Chamber Orchestra, and Director of Orchestras for the DeKalb School District, where he founded the DeKalb High School String Band. His artistic leadership also includes serving as Lead Artistic Coordinator for Ensemble Dal Niente for three years, where he curated programs, educational activities, and produced events and recordings. Chris' conducting mentors include Victor Yampolsky (Northwestern University), Lucia Matos (Northern Illinois University), Cliff Colnot (Civic Orchestra of Chicago), Randal Swiggum (Comprehensive Musicianship through Performance), Robert Culver (University of Michigan), and Herbert Blomstedt, and he has worked in master classes with Leon Fleisher, Jorma Panula, Neil Varon, Matthew Halls, Robert Franz, Mark Gibson, Donald Schleicher, Louis Bergonzi, Robert Hasty, Michael Jinbo, and Edward Maclary. In addition to instrumental repertoire, Chris has conducted staged productions and excerpts from multiple requiems, operas, musicals, oratorios, cantatas, hymns and motets.
-David Allen, The New York Times.
-Peter Margasak, Chicago Reader.
"It is hard to imagine Ung’s enchanting music finding finer advocates than these. Each moment of the piece’s heart-stopping final sequence is painstakingly shaped and colored by the trio, and the cello’s final note seems to both swallow all of time, and be swallowed by it."
-Ellen McSweeney, New Music Box.
"Wild’s playing here is very physical and ethereal, sometimes at once: there’s an introspective focus to his playing in the songful sections that corresponds powerfully to the music’s aggressive passages."
-Jonathan Blumhofer, The Arts Fuse.
“Cellist Chris Wild’s elevating introduction—replete with delicate harmonic cross-bowings—set the audience up for nearly an hour of music that never quite touched the ground.”
-Andrew Tham, I Care If You Listen.
“Cellist Chris Wild and Third Coast Percussion gave the piece a dramatic and expressively nuanced performance.”
-Michael Cameron, Chicago Classical Review.
"Spahlinger’s ghostly 'adieu m’amour: homage à Guillaume Dufay' had more atmosphere. It’s a work of both desolate sadness and desperate tedium for violin and cello, just barely breathed into life, in almost total darkness, by Tarn Travers and Chris Wild."
-David Allen, The New York Times.
They blossom into beautiful lyric melodies that Wild played with effortless dignity.”
-Tom Strini, Third Coast Daily.