The Washington Chorus found its newly minted Artistic Director in the likes of Christopher Bell; an Irish born choirboy turned conductor from Scotland with a career packed full of amazing performance credits and milestones. (Really. Check out his amazing bio!)
However, his enthusiasm for choral conducting was not always the case. In fact, Bell said he wanted to pursue architecture as a career instead and conducting came to him almost as if by a beautiful accident.
When the initial offer came to take on the non-auditioned, volunteer university chorus in dire need of a director at The University of Edinburgh during his collegiate days, Bell said his answer was simple, “I wasn’t interested at all.”
When the offer circled back to him soon after, he finally gave it a chance and realized by the second rehearsal that he enjoyed and appreciated it more than he expected.
“I was challenging them to step up to the plate, and that is the same whether it is a children’s choir, a volunteer choir, or a professional choir,” said Bell about the experience, and of the standard in which he holds his choir members to now.
When asked what he hopes to accomplish in his role, Bell spoke about raising standards, creating a bigger international facet to the organization’s reputation as a premiere choral group – on top of its growing domestic presence – and he also aims to continue the chorus’ steady production of innovative programming.
“I work with people, for people, to help those people achieve their maximum potential,” said Bell.
This season, Bell is conducting The Washington Chorus’ holiday concerts called A Candlelight Christmas for the first time. These concerts are a beloved seasonal tradition for their patrons, so we asked how he plans to place his spin on it and how he will keep people joyful for the season in a town ridden by recent stress caused by society and politics.
“I’ve got to make sure I get it right whilst not trying to follow someone else’s formula. I need to try to inject a little bit of my sparkle into it and hope that everybody at the end of the day still enjoys it,” he said.
Outside of choral life, Bell’s residence in Washington approaches a whopping three months, so we asked him how he is faring in the new city he calls home. Aside from visiting several memorials and trying new restaurants, Bell says he likes the city, the people he is meeting, and *gasp* he even likes the Metro!
“I love the metro here in DC,” Bell said with a smile, “You guys complain about it all the time! It has not caused me an ounce of bother. I know how to work it. I know how to find places, so I’m very much enjoying that.”
We will be sure to check back in with him on that in a few months.
Until then, get your tickets today to see his work at A Candlelight Christmas, which includes concerts at both The John F. Kennedy Center on December 10th (2 p.m. and 5 p.m.), 16th (4 p.m.), 21st (7 p.m.), and 22nd (7 p.m.), or at the Music Center at Strathmore on December 15th at 8 p.m.