Photo Credit: Michael Kushner
Solo and collaborative pianist Christopher Koelzer hails from the San Francisco Bay Area, and performs, records, and coaches regularly in the New York City and Washington, D.C. metropolitan areas. Christopher began collaborating in opera, musical theater, and chamber music at age 13, working with Mission City Opera in Santa Clara, CA, and Lyric Theater of San Jose, CA. Christopher received his Bachelor’s Degree in Piano Performance, studying with Dr. Irene Peery-Fox at Brigham Young University, where he coached and performed in the Opera department during his entire degree. He holds Doctor of Musical Arts and Master of Music Degrees in Collaborative Piano from University of Maryland, College Park, and where he studied with Professor Rita Sloan.
Christopher has performed across the world as a solo and collaborative pianist. He received an Oscarson Grant to attend the International Music Academy at Plzen, Czech Republic in 2009. He attended Aspen Music Festival and School with full scholarship from 2011-2012, returning as Vocal Fellow in 2014. Christopher was an advisor, musical coach and performer in the Rural Artists Project, Inc. in western Alaska in 2014, a program designed to promote music appreciation and cultural development in rural areas. He was awarded Outstanding Collaborative Pianist Award and Grand Prize Art Song in the Metropolitan International Music Festival Competition in New York, 2016 with mezzo-soprano Nicole Lévèsque. Christopher was a Coaching Fellow at Wolf Trap Opera in 2017, as coach and accompanist for Rigoletto, as well as pianist for a new production of Kurt Weill’s The Seven Deadly Sins as part of Halcyon’s By The People, an international arts and dialogue festival in Washington, D.C., a performance that collaborated with Hong Kong Ballet and Terra Firma Dance Company. Christopher joined the Merola Opera Program for its 2019 season as Apprentice Coach, premiering Jake Heggie’s If I Were You.
Christopher has worked as assistant conductor and vocal coach with many opera companies, including Washington National Opera (Washington, D.C.), Wolf Trap Opera (Vienna, VA), Northern Lights Music Festival (Minnesota), Maryland Lyric Opera (Bethesda, MD), and has coached and performed with the Maryland Opera Studio from 2013-2020. Christopher was selected for Washington National Opera’s Cafritz Young Artist Program as pianist and coach from 2017-2019. He has performed and recorded several new musicals written by Blake Allen in New York City (shards, Boston|Nebraska), as well as world premieres of new operas, including in New York City (Hometown to the World, Kaminsky/Reed), D.C. (Proving Up, Mazzoli/Vavrek). He is nominated for a 2019 Grammy® Award for his work performing and recording with the National Orchestral Institute + Festival on the album RUGGLES, STUCKY & HARBISON: ORCHESTRAL WORKS with conductor David Alan Miller. Christopher has performed at Carnegie Hall as both pianist (Blake Allen’s sextet with voice, Insomnia, 2022) and organist (Dan Forrest’s Requiem for the Living, 2022/23, Fauré's Réquiem, 2023). Christopher joined Maryland Lyric Opera as Assistant Conductor since its 2019 Season, and currently works as a teacher of Collaborative Piano and Opera, as well as vocal coach and accompanist, at Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Arts and Performing Arts in Manhattan.