Conductor, pianist and vocal coach Christopher “Topher” Mokrzewski (pronounced mok-SHEV-ski) is a steadily rising figure in the worlds of Canadian opera, symphony and chamber music. He is Resident Conductor of Calgary Opera and Founding Music Director of Toronto’s acclaimed indie opera company, Against the Grain Theatre. A graduate of the Canadian Opera Company Ensemble Studio, Mokrzewski has been described by music critic John Terauds as “one of those bright, eager, whip-smart young artists who could give even the most hardened cynic a jolt of optimism about the future of classical music and opera” and was named one of CBC Music’s “Hot 30 Classical Musicians under 30” in 2013.
Praised by Opera Canada for his “exemplary playing in its clarity and lyricism,” Mokrzewski is frequently sought as a piano soloist, collaborator and music director. He was recently the Music Director of The Banff Centre’s summer 2014 opera program, Open Space, where Against the Grain Theatre mounted #UncleJohn, a groundbreaking adaptation of Mozart’s Don Giovanni. He also recently performed a concert tour throughout Ontario with soprano Measha Brueggergosman and conducted Mozart’s The Magic Flute with Saskatoon Opera and Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia with Calgary Opera. In November 2014 he appeared with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra as the piano soloist in Messiaen’s Turangalila Symphony.
Mokrzewski has served as a music staff member for many companies and productions since 2008, including the Canadian Opera Company’s highly acclaimed productions of Tristan und Isolde and Rigoletto, Calgary Opera’s The Flying Dutchman and Opera Atelier’s The Magic Flute and La clemenza di Tito. He has also given several solo piano recitals at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, and music directed Against the Grain Theatre’s Dora Mavor Moore Award-winning Figaro’s Wedding, The Turn of the Screw and multiple other productions.
Mokrzewski has held music staff positions at the Chautauqua Institution under the direction of renowned pedagogue Marlena Malas and at the Highlands Opera Studio under the direction of celebrated tenor Richard Margison and stage director Valerie Kuinka.
He holds multiple degrees in piano performance from the Eastman School of Music, and is a graduate of the Vocal Piano Program at the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, California, where he studied with renowned coach and pianist Warren Jones. From a young age he enjoyed success as a solo pianist, performing his first concerto with symphony orchestra at the age of 11, and winning first prizes at the Eastman School of Music International Young Artists Competition, the Empire State Piano Competition, the Canadian Music Competition and the Milosz Magin International Piano Competition, leading to a a year-long residency in Paris, France.