I remember hearing about Christopher long before I met him, which was during the late 90s. At the time, I was Purple’s voice teacher and lived just down the street from the McMullen-Laird family. I taught quite a number of Steiner School students and Christopher’s reputation definitely preceded him! He had been described to me as eccentric and fun-loving and a musician with a penchant for Mozart. Everyone adored Christopher’s energy..
On the day that we met, Christopher joined Purple for a voice lesson where she was singing an aria from Mozart’s opera, Bastien und Bastienne. This relatively unperformed piece was one of Mozart’s earliest operas, written when he was just 12 years old. In retrospect, it seems perfectly apropos to have met with Christopher’s astounding talent in the musical context of the world’s best known child prodigy – Mozart.
I will quite literally never forget that meeting with Christopher! His enthusiasm for musical discussion was infectious and his knowledge of the opera and of Mozart was stunning and unprecedented for most teenage males. His energy and excitement filled the studio and the impact of his presence stayed with me long after that day. In fact, I always remember that day in my tiny studio with Purple and Christopher every time I see or hear mention of Bastien und Bastienne.
Many years have passed since that day, but once reacquainted with Christopher through Facebook over the last few years, I began following the journey of his career. How incredible it has been to watch his successes and see posts of his animated, expressive displays as a conductor. As an opera singer, I had always hoped there might be some serendipity to sing under his baton one day, bringing our connection from that first meeting full circle. I am sorry that day will not come in this lifetime and I am also sorry that I won’t have the opportunity to see him conduct in person.
It is obvious that Christopher’s short life impacted countless people. I will never forget how that brilliant, young talent impacted my own life. Thank you, Christopher, and thank you McMullen-Laird family for bringing his joy into the world and giving all of us the chance to celebrate him together.