Michael’s music draws from an eclectic brew of influences including jazz and New Orleans, Renaissance polyphony, Jewish liturgy and klezmer, and South Indian classical music. Recent performances include ensembles such as the Minnesota Orchestra, the Naples Philharmonic Orchestra, Alarm Will Sound, the 21st Century Consort (the resident new music ensemble of the Smithsonian institution), the Vocal Essence Ensemble Singers, and the New York Virtuoso Singers. Current projects include a NYYS First Music commission for a new chamber work to be premiered at Carnegie Hall, a choral-orchestral setting of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s poetry for the Concord Chorus, a new work for choir and band for Harvard University’s 2017 commencement exercises, and a dramatic oratorio based on the poetry of Langston Hughes for Bass-Baritone Davone Tines and the American Repertory Theater. In 2013, on the occasion of a historic partnership with the Gershwin family, the University of Michigan commissioned him to compose a mash-up of the University’s fight song “Hail to the Victors” and Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue.” The resulting “Rhapsody in Maize and Blue” was premiered by Kenneth Kiesler and the University Symphony Orchestra in a concert featuring singer Audra McDonald. Michael has received honors from organizations such as BMI, ASCAP, and the American Composers Forum. As a scholar, Michael’s research interests include the philosophy of music (especially aesthetics, epistemology, and ethics), pedagogy, early music, jazz, New Orleans music, and the classical music of South India. Current work includes a dissertation project on musical epistemology (the philosophy of musical knowledge). His scholarly articles have been published in journals such as Music Theory Online andIndiana Theory Review, and he has presented his work at regional and national conferences. In March 2016, Michael will give the keynote address at the Bowling Green State University Graduate Conference.
Born and raised in Massachusetts, young Michael frequently embarrassed his parents by singing loudly at restaurants. He earned his BA from Harvard in 2009, where he directed the Harvard Chamber Singers and founded and directed the Harvard Jazz Collective. As a jazz pianist, he has performed in concerts and master classes with Herbie Hancock, Joshua Redman, Roy Haynes, Roy Hargrove, Don Byron, and many others. He spent the 2009-2010 academic year in Chennai, India studying South Indian classical singing and vina playing. While living in Chennai, Michael and his wife, Allie, lived and worked at an NGO that provides a wide array of human services, and upon returning to the United States they founded a non-profit organization that sponsors education and living expenses for child victims of human trafficking. If you are interested in learning more, please click here for more information.
Michael is currently working towards a Ph.D. in Music Theory and Composition at the University of Michigan, where he has worked with Bright Sheng, Paul Schoenfield, Michael Daugherty, and Evan Chambers. He watched the Red Sox win Game 6 of the World Series at Fenway Park this past fall and can now die in peace.
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