Christopher Ocasek


"In a production of artful contrasts and commonalities directed by Peter Kazaras and nimbly conducted by Christopher Ocasek, these pieces added up to a hugely enjoyable and impressive evening."

-SF Gate

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Cendrillon Act III, Jules Massenet Christopher Ocasek, conductor

Symphony No. 5, Mvt. II, Felix Mendelssohn

Interview: Sheri Greenawald, Christopher Ocasek and Peter Kazaras discuss The Bear 

American conductor Christopher Ocasek is recognized for his rising international career, having collaborated with orchestras and in opera houses throughout Europe, the United States, and Asia. Acclaimed as a young conductor with immense talent, Mr. Ocasek has gained a reputation for his innate sense of musical nuance and stunning interpretations of both new music and standard repertoire. 

In the 2017/18 season, Ocasek makes his debut at China’s National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing as rehearsal and cover conductor for Massenet’s Thais, conducted by Patrick Fournillier and starring Placido Domingo. Ocasek makes his debut in Spain for the production’s revival at the Teatro Real Madrid in July 2018. Additional engagements for the season include his return to San Francisco Opera for Massenet’s Cendrillon and Washington National Opera for Verdi’s Don Carlo, conducted by Music Director Philippe Auguin. Mr. Ocasek serves on the conducting staff at both the San Francisco Opera and Washington National Opera, where his work as guest conductor and assistant/cover conductor have led him to collaborations with renowned stage directors such as Francesca Zambello, David Pountney, Calixto Bieito, and Peter Kazaras among others.

Ocasek made his principal conducting debut at Washington National Opera in 2015 with Carmen as part of the company’s “Look In” program with performances at the Kennedy Center. His principal conducting debut with the UCLA Opera department came in 2017 with performances of Cendrillon, followed by a triple bill of Pergolesi’s La serva padrona, Holst’s Savitri, and Walton’s The Bear in his conducting debut with San Francisco Opera’s Merola Opera Program. Additional credits include serving on music staff for Le Nozze di Figaro and La Fille du Régiment at Washington National Opera, as well as La boheme at San Francisco Opera.

Ocasek has also fostered a growing relationship with Marilyn Horne and Music Academy of the West, where in 2015 he made principal conducting debuts in both a concert version of Rossini’s La Cenerentola and in opera scenes as part of Operafest. In 2014 he joined Ms. Horne for her 80th birthday celebration in acclaimed performances of Carmen at the historic Lobero Theatre. In addition to Music Academy of the West, Ocasek has also built a strong relationship with the Juilliard School, joining the orchestra program to lead rehearsals as well as the Vocal Arts division for productions of Rossini’s Il Turco in Italia and Massenet’s Cendrillon. Mr. Ocasek also served as music director of the American Repertory Chamber Orchestra (ARCO) from 2010 to 2016. He is recorded on the CreateSpace Studios label.

Christopher Ocasek began his opera conducting career at the age of 21, leading the Mozart and More Orchestra in notably received performances of Der Schauspieldirektor. The same year, he assumed the position of Music Director of Chamber Ensemble Wisconsin. Additional Music Director positions include the Florida Chamber Ensemble, the Ritornelli Orchestra and his most recent position with the American Repertory Chamber Orchestra. 

As a conductor of opera, Mr. Ocasek has performed throughout the US and Europe, leading celebrated productions of Carmen, Mark Adamo’s Little WomenLa Tragèdie de CarmenCendrillon, The Mikado, and The Medium, among others. His musical versatility has led to great success in a variety of repertoire ranging from Mozart to Puccini to Lerner & Loewe. He has also served in several positions as vocal coach, pianist and chorus master. Mr. Ocasek has coached singers on a wide range of repertoire since 1999 and has presented numerous concerts of both arias and Lieder. His knowledge of working with emerging singers has earned him reengagements with some of the United States’ top programs for young artists.

An enthusiast of culture and creation, Mr. Ocasek’s focus as music director with ARCO has been primarily on the American canon, new music, and emerging composers. Under his baton, he has premiered numerous new works and collaborated with dozens of composers. His love of creative programming has led him to fascinating projects including the world premier of Paula Matthusen’s work entitled, “It will never be known how this has to be told…”, a series of concerts of new works with Christopher Theofanidis, Mark Kilstofte and Ladislav Kubik, as well as a recording project with Ellen Zwilich, assisting on the Naxos project in 2009.

As a pianist, Mr. Ocasek has performed extensively in collaboration with singers. As a soloist, he has been seen in concert performing and conducting from the piano, including a riveting performance of the Mozart Piano Concerto No. 20 in D minor.

Mr. Ocasek has received numerous awards in conducting and education and has been praised by renowned critics such as Greg Sandow for his authority in leading ensembles. He currently resides between Vienna, Austria and  Paris, France.