Christopher Bell annually conducts choral and orchestral performances at the Chicago Grant Park Music Festival, where he will embark on his 10th season as Chorus Director in 2011. During his tenure he and the chorus have been recipients of the coveted Margaret Hillis Award for Choral Excellence given by Chorus America as well as glowing reviews from both critics and audiences alike. "If Bell isn't the city's most inspiring choral director, I don't know who is."
He is also the Chorus Master of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra Junior Chorus, the Edinburgh Festival Chorus and of the Belfast Philharmonic Choir. Largely responsible for the formation of the National Youth Choir of Scotland in 1996, he has been its Artistic Director ever since, conducting them in a highly successful BBC Proms debut in July 2006.
Born in Belfast, Mr. Bell was educated at Edinburgh University and held his first post as Associate Conductor of the BBC Scottish Symphony. Since then, he has worked with many of the major orchestras in the UK and Ireland, including the Royal Philharmonic, London Philharmonic, Royal Scottish National, BBC Scottish Symphony, Ulster Orchestra, Scottish Chamber, City of London Sinfonia London Concert, RTE National Symphony, RTE Concert and the Bournemouth Symphony. He conducted the Ulster Orchestra in a special programme for BBC television, which was broadcast in the Spring of 2007.
Christopher Bell was Chorus Master of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra between 1989 and 2002 and was the first Artistic Director of the Edinburgh Royal Choral Union. Further afield, he has conducted the Netherlands Radio Choir and the Opera Australia Melbourne Chorus, and last season he made his debut with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.
His operatic engagements have included seasons of TOSCA, LA BOHEME and WEST SIDE STORY for Opera Northern Ireland; TOSCA for Dublin Grand Opera Society and West Australian Opera; and TURANDOT and NABUCCO for Edinburgh Grand Opera. He has conducted WEST SIDE STORY, PORGY AND BESS and CARMEN for the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and EUGENE ONEGIN with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra for Wellington City Opera. He was Principal Guest Conductor of the State Orchestra of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia from 1998 - 2000.
Christopher Bell is well-known for his abilities with working with young musicians. Before his current posts with the RSNO Junior Chorus and the National Youth Choir of Scotland, he was the founding conductor of the Ulster Youth Choir and director of the TOTAL Aberdeen Youth Choir for six years. In 2004, Mr. Bell was instrumental in the multi-week residency of the National Youth Choir of Scotland with the Grant Park Chorus in Chicago. Between 2001 and 2008 he was Artistic Director of the highly successful Children's Classic Concert series.
In 2001, Mr. Bell received a Scotsman of the Year Award for Creative Talent in appreciation for his work with singers, particularly his encouragement of young singers in Scotland. In 2003, he was awarded the Charles Grove Prize for his contribution to cultural life in Scotland and throughout the UK.
In May 2009, Christopher Bell received an honorary Master's degree from the Open University for Services to the Arts. He was joined on this occasion by Sir Mark Elder, Music Director of the Hallé and the UK Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, amongst others.