Christie will assume the post in the fall of 2005, succeeding Hermann Michael, who retired earlier this year after seven years with the orchestra.
The music director of the Colorado Music Festival since 2000, Christie completed a three-year term as music director of the Queensland Symphony of Australia earlier this year. He has also served as an associate conductor of the Helsinki Philharmonic.
Christie has signed a five-year contract, agreeing to lead ten weeks of concerts in Phoenix in 2005-06 and expanding his commitment to fifteen weeks in subsequent seasons. Some of the additional time will be devoted to community outreach, one of Christie's specialties. He is the inventor of the Keeping Score system, in which program notes corresponding to numbers appearing on a monitor give concertgoers a real-time guide to the music.
According to the orchestra, the search committee was so enthusiastic about Christie that it cut short a search process that was expected to stretch well into 2005.
"Michael Christie is exactly the right person to be the next music director of the Phoenix Symphony," said orchestra president Maryellen H. Gleason in a statement. "With Michael's vision, his talents, his youth, his unbridled energy, we are prepared to work with him to build upon our past work and to reach new levels of musical achievement and community involvement."