Engagement through creativity has been at the core of Christophe Chagnard’s philosophy throughout his distinguished career. As a composer, his music addressed pressing global issues such as systemic racism, climate change, intolerance, and social injustice. His latest works “Gaman” (2017) and “Terra Nostra” (2019) address systemic racism and climate change respectively.
As a Grammy-nominated conductor, Christophe Chagnard has led a vast repertoire of symphonic, operatic, and ballet works of all styles and periods. He has also spent three decades making the concert hall accessible to all, addressing the elitist stereotype that plagues this art form.
As a guitarist, he explores a wide array of styles and traditions together in genre-defying creations intended to present an open and inclusive voice that transcends labels.
Stepping beyond the bounds of music, Chagnard was appointed Artistic Director at Earthbound Expeditions in 2018, curating cultural trips worldwide. In 2020, he took his vision and expertise globally and founded his own boutique company Renewal Journeys designed for intimate groups of travellers seeking the ultimate in custom cultural exploration.
Deepening his commitment to environmental sustainability, he also founded Earth Creative, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the creations of artists who use nature as their medium in order to raise awareness about our increasingly threatened environment and the causes and effects of climate change.
From 2015 to 2018, Chagnard served as Director of Outreach at Classical KING FM 98.1 where he designed and implemented educational projects and oversaw hundreds of public relation events each year. He also curated music programs for the Travel Club and lectured during trips abroad.
Chagnard co-founded the Northwest Sinfonietta in 1991 and lead it to prominence until 2015. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer described the Northwest Sinfonietta as “the finest chamber orchestra in the Northwest.” Chagnard performs regularly with some of the biggest names in music, including Lynn Harrell, Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, Cecile Licad, Richard Stoltzman, Awadagin Pratt and Lara St. John. Chagnard also served as Music Director of the Lake Union Civic Orchestra for 20 years and forged it as one of the finest community orchestras in the Northwest.
Chagnard is equally versed in opera with acclaimed performances of Don Giovanni, The Abduction from the Seraglio, Dido and Aneas, La Bohème, Tosca and Madame Butterfly. Chagnard also led many ballet productions including The Nutcracker, Cinderella, Swan Lake, and Stravinsky’s Danses Concertantes. His international guest appearances include performances in Russia, Japan and Cuba.
Chagnard is also a prolific composer whose works have been heard widely across North America and in Europe. His most recent compositions include Gaman (2017), commissioned by Music of Remembrance to commemorate the anniversary of the incarceration of Japanese Americans during WW II and Terra Nostra (2015, revised 2019), a multi-media symphonic creation about climate change. In 2010, his ground-breaking composition Opre Roma! for three gypsy jazz guitars and orchestra was critically acclaimed and performed repeatedly in the U.S. and Cuba. Embargo, Suite Cubana was premiered in April 2013 as a vibrant tribute to Cuban music and culture.
Chagnard’s awards include the 2006 ArtsFund Outstanding Achievement in the Arts Award, the Richard Levy Award for outstanding musicianship for three consecutive years and the Sigma Alpha Iota National Arts Associate Award. In 2012, Washington State Governor Christine Gregoire proclaimed October 5, Northwest Sinfonietta Day. In 2015, Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland proclaimed February 21st as “Christophe Chagnard Appreciation Day for his many contributions to this region” and Puyallup Mayor John Knutsen proclaimed February 22nd as “Christophe Chagnard Day in recognition of his incredible cultural contribution to the community over the past 24 years.” Most recently, the “Christophe Chagnard Scholarship” was established at the Tacoma Community Foundation to inspire young students to excel in music.
Chagnard’s recording credits include Mozart’s Symphonies No.40 and 41, Musical Gems I and II and Passionate Puccini, live with the Northwest Sinfonietta, Piano Concertos No.23 and 25 with Mark Salman on the Immortal Classics label, Debussy’s Danses Sacrée et profane with Isabelle Perrin on the First Impression Music label. In August 2013, he recorded a rare selection of dances for piano and orchestra with pianist Joel Fan for the prestigious Reference Recording label which was nominated for a Grammy in the Best Classical Producer category.
Chagnard received his musical training in composition and conducting from Berklee College of Music and New England Conservatory where he studied with Frank Battisti, Benjamin Zander and Pascal Verrot and graduated with Academic Honors. From 1992 to 1994, Chagnard served on the faculty of the Berklee College of Music and in 1993; he became the first Music Director of the New England String Ensemble in Boston. He also served as Director of Orchestras at the University of Puget Sound from 2001 to 2012.
As a lecturer, coach and educator, Chagnard has been featured on NPR’s Performance Today and broadcast regularly over the past 20 years on KING FM and KCTS9 in Seattle. He gives numerous lectures each year on musicology, history and leadership and presents pre-concert lectures to children and adult audiences alike.
A gifted communicator, Chagnard draws audiences into a piece of music with a direct approach that is compelling and distinctly his own. He has been praised by The News Tribune as an “intensely musical conductor given sometimes to attempting unconventional performances.” Chagnard brings the finely-honed sensibilities of the chamber musician to orchestral performance. His commitment to music of our time, cross-genre collaborations, a keen interest in mentoring and encouraging young musicians, and an easy manner in front of audiences help make him the complete musician.