Christopher James Ray is a conductor with a diverse background in both traditional and contemporary operatic works. In 2017, Christopher joined the music staff of the renowned Bayreuth Festival where he has worked on productions of Der Fliegende Holländer, Lohengrin, Götterdämmerung, Tristan und Isolde, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, and Parsifal.
Christopher made his professional conducting debut leading a double bill of Gianni Schicchi and Pagliacci with the Mississippi Opera in 2014. Later that year he conducted performances of Cosi fan tutte, Suor Angelica, and Gianni Schicchi with Opera in the Ozarks.
In the 2018-19 season, Christopher will make his debut with San Jose Opera conducting performances of Pagliacci and Moby Dick. For the 2017-18 season, Christopher served as Interim Music Director for Opera at the Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music at the University of Memphis where he led performances of Cosi fan tutte and The Tender Land. Additional conducting credits include Handel’s Alcina at the Pennsylvania State University, Nico Muhly’s Dark Sisters at Texas Christian University, Le nozze di Figaro for Land of Enchantment Opera, and Florida State Opera’s productions of Heggie's Three Decembers, Glass's In the Penal Colony, Menotti's The Old Maid and the Thief, and Britten's The Beggar's Opera.
As assistant conductor, Christopher has worked with New York City Opera (Brokeback Mountain), Salzburg State Theater (Brokeback Mountain), North Carolina Opera (La bohème, Così fan tutte, Le nozze di Figaro), Sarasota Opera (Le nozze di Figaro, Don Carlos), Opera on the James (Carmen), Opera on the Avalon (Die Zauberflöte), Syracuse Opera (Die Fledermaus) as well as the Memphis and Portland (ME) Symphonies.
A protege of American composer Carlisle Floyd, Christopher is a sought-after interpreter of Floyd's works. In addition to serving as the assistant to the composer, Christopher recorded an album of Floyd’s songs with the celebrated mezzo-soprano Susanne Mentzer. It is available through GPR Records on the Naxos label.
A native of Sumrall, Mississippi, Christopher is a graduate of Florida State University where he studied with Douglas Fisher and Carlisle Floyd.