The Akron Symphony Orchestra has named Akron resident Christopher James Lees associate conductor for the 2008-09 season.

Lees, a graduate of the University of Michigan and former music director of the Michigan Pops Orchestra, was appointed interim assistant conductor back in June by Akron Symphony music director, Christopher Wilkins. In filling the permanent position, Lees will conduct the Akron Symphony in a variety of programs. He will also continue to direct the Akron Youth Symphony.

"Chris has received strong support from the musicians of the Akron Symphony, from the members of the Youth Symphony and their parents, and from many in the community who have come to appreciate his considerable gifts," Wilkins said. "It is a delight to have Chris on our team; he has brought energy, imagination, and skill to every aspect of the job."

In 2007, Lees was awarded a Conducting Fellowship at the Festival Internacional de Inverno de Campos do Jordao in Brazil. Last year, Lees was a finalist in the American Conducting Fellows Program, sponsored by the American Symphony Orchestra League, the Baltimore Symphony Conducting Fellowship Program, and the London Philharmonic's International Young Conductors Academy.

While attending the University of Michigan, Christopher received degrees in Performance and Music Education (BM), and studied Orchestral Conducting (MM) with Kenneth Kiesler.