for the Musicians' Portrait Project
Max Christie was born in Kingston, Ontario and grew up in Toronto where he took up the clarinet at the age of nine. Max completed a Bachelor of Music degree at the University of Western Ontario studying with Robert Riseling; he subsequently did advanced study with Joaquin Valdepeñas, Principal Clarinet with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra; and then completed a Master of Music Performance with Keith Wilson at Yale University. He was a member of the National Youth Orchestra of Canada during the 1982 and 1983 seasons.
He has been the Principal Clarinet of the Orchestra of the National Ballet of Canada for nearly 20 years. In addition to his work in the pit with the orchestra, he has performed Mozart’s Clarinet Quintet on stage in James Kudelka’s ballet Musings. Recently he performed Stravinski’s Ebony Concerto in the Eric Bruhn dance competition hosted by the National Ballet.
Max has been principal clarinet with the Esprit Orchestra for the past twelve years. With Esprit, he has performed as a soloist and recorded numerous discs and film scores including Paul Gross’s celebrated movie Passchendael, and the documentary film Inside Hanna’s Suitcase.
Max Christie has a deep commitment to contemporary music. He has recorded the works of Harry Somers, Brian Current, Melissa Hui, Rudolph Komouros, and Brian Cherney among others. His CD of the M.C. McGuire double concerto for Clarinet and Oboe, Spawn of Abe, has just been released, and his performance of Gra for solo clarinet, by Elliot Carter, is available on the Naxos label.
As a member of Continuum Contemporary Ensemble, he recently returned from a successful tour of Great Britain and the Netherlands. Continuum’s repertoire ranges over the broadest and most eclectic array of contemporary compositions, often incorporating theatrical elements. Their recent CD includes music by Martin Arnold, Richard Ayres, Linda Smith and Michael Oesterle.
As a member of New Music Concerts ensemble Max has worked with some of the most celebrated contemporary composers including Pierre Boulez, Heinz Holliger, Roger Reynolds, and Elliot Carter. His performance of Michel Gonneville’s La Cheminement de la Baleine, a double concerto for clarinet and Ondes Martenot, drew unqualified praise from the composer.
His Opera collaborations include: Harry Somers’ The Death of Enkidu with Soundstreams; Elsewhereless by Rodney Sharman with Tapestry New Opera; The Midnight Court with Queen of Puddings; and, in the spring of 2009, the premier of Omar Daniel’s The Shadow.
Max teaches clarinet and coaches chamber music at the University of Toronto as well as in his own studio.