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Christopher Trapani was born in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1980. His formative musical encounters included trumpet lessons at age nine, a pawn shop guitar purchased three years later, then piano lessons from the age of fourteen. Christopher first studied composition under Stephen Dankner at the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts, where he was awarded a Certificate of Artistry in 1998 as the school's first graduate to specialize in composition.

Following a year of study with Malcolm Peyton at New England Conservatory in Boston, Christopher transfered to Harvard College, where he earned a Bachelor’s degree in Music and English and American Literature and Language, studying composition with Bernard Rands and poetry under Helen Vendler. With the support of a Frank Knox Memorial Fellowship, he then traveled to London in 2002 to pursue a Masters of Music degree at the Royal College of Music with Julian Anderson. He then spent four years in Paris, where he held a residency at the Cité Internationale des Arts and worked with the French composer Philippe Leroux.

Christopher spent the 2007-2008 academic year in Istanbul on a Fulbright grant, then returned to Paris in September 2008 to take part in the composition and music technology cursus at IRCAM. Christopher is currently a doctoral fellow at Columbia University, where he has worked with Tristan Murail and George Lewis. In September 2012, he returns to Paris for a Musical Research Residency at IRCAM.

Christopher is the winner of the 2007 Gaudeamus Prize, the first American in over thirty years to win the international young composers' award. He has also been awarded the Julius F. Ježek Prize (2013) and the ASCAP Leo Kaplan Award (2009), as well as a BMI Student Composer Award (2006), three Morton Gould Young Composers Awards from ASCAP (2005, 2006, 2009), the Bearns Prize from Columbia University (2006), and the Wayne Peterson Prize from Earplay (2005). His scores have been performed by the Nouvel Ensemble Moderne, Nieuw Ensemble, Asko Ensemble, Ensemble L’Itinéraire, Talea Ensemble, Ensemble Dal Niente, Argento Ensemble, Wet Ink, Ensemble Mosaik, Earplay, Musiques Nouvelles, qanûn virtuoso Julien Jalâl Eddine Weiss, guitarist Christelle Séry, the Brussels Philharmonic, members of the Philharmonia Orchestra, and the American Composers Orchestra.

In March 2011, Christopher was featured in a portrait concert on the Philharmonia Orchestra's Music of Today series at the Royal Festival Hall in London. His works have also been programmed on major festivals such as the Venice Biennale, the Ultraschall Festival in Berlin, Musica Nova Helsinki, and IRCAM's Agora Festival in Paris. He has received commissions from the FleetBoston Celebrity Series (for pianist Sergey Schepkin), the National Endowment for the Arts (for The Providence Singers), and the Jerome Foundation.

Recent and upcoming projects include a new piece for two pianos, two percussionists, and electronics to be premiered in New York in 2014 by Yarn/Wire, a work for the Atlas Ensemble plus electronics (realized at ExperimentalStudio SWR) to be premiered in Amsterdam and Helsinki, a new string quartet commissioned by Wigmore Hall for the JACK Quartet, and a commission for the Ensemble Orchestral Contemporain with electronics (New Forum Jeune Création, GRAME) to be premiered in Berlin, Antwerp, and Lyon in 2014 in conjunction with the New Forum - Jeune Création.

Christopher has taken part in courses at the Conservatoire Américan at Fontainebleau, working under Andre Bon and Allain Gaussin, and in the "Voix Nouvelles" workshop at Royaumont Abbey in 2004, led by Brian Ferneyhough, Luca Francesconi, and Philippe Leroux. He also participated in the Centre Acanthes in 2005, with workshops led by Wolfgang Rihm and Pascal Dusapin, and again in 2009, with guest composers Hugues Dufourt, Ivan Fedele, and Bruno Mantovani. He also worked with Denys Bouliane and Jean Lesage at the 'Rencontres de Musique Nouvelle' at Domaine Forget in August 2006, and took part in the New Music Technology summer course at IRCAM in June 2006.

Christopher is also active as a conductor and a performer, often on his specially adapted hexaphonic electric guitar, notably in the premiere of Westering with the American Composers Orchestra at Carnegie Hall in December 2010.