is a composer, pianist, scholar, and teacher.
Born and raised in New England, Michael spent his formative years immersed in omnivorous musical activity: absorbing the strains of Jewish cantillation, performing piano concerti, leading jazz combos, accompanying musicals and gospel groups, conducting Renaissance choral music, and studying Southeast Indian classical (Karnatak) music in Chennai. His work — composition, writing, and teaching alike — seeks to harness this unique versatility in the pursuit of humanist inquiry.
Michael’s new music-theatrical work, The Black Clown, will premiere at the American Repertory Theater in their 2018–19 season. Co-created with starring bass-baritone Davóne Tines and director Zack Winokur, the category-resistant work realizes the poetic vision of Langston Hughes’ dramatic monologue of the same name.
Highlights of the 2017–18 season include premieres with the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra, a consortium of wind ensembles led by the University of Michigan, and saxophonist Emmett Rapaport; the unveiling of a new multimedia theater piece “Were You There,” also a collaboration with Mr. Tines and Mr. Winokur, which features at New York’s Resonant Bodies Festival, Knoxville’s Big Ears Festival, the Rockport Chamber Music Festival, and the American Modern Opera Company’s inaugural residency at the American Repertory Theater; and additional performances at the Ojai Festival, the National Flute Association’s national conference, and by groups such as the Bloomington Symphony, ensemblenewSRQ, and the Chimera Trio.
In recent years, Michael’s music has been commissioned and performed by ensembles such as the Minnesota Orchestra, the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra, the Boise Philharmonic, the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra, the Naples Philharmonic Orchestra, Alarm Will Sound, the 21st Century Consort (the resident new music ensemble of the Smithsonian institution), the Brentano Quartet, the Concord Chorus and Orchestra, the Masterworks Chorale and Orchestra, the Vocal Essence Ensemble Singers, the New York Virtuoso Singers, the Berkeley Community Chorus and Orchestra, and chamber groups and collegiate ensembles around the country. His works have 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 projects include a monograph on musical epistemology (the philosophy of musical knowledge). His scholarly articles have been published in journals such as the Society for Music Theory’s online journal Music Theory Online, The Indiana Theory Review, and Music and Literature, and he has presented his work at regional and national conferences. In March 2016, Michael was invited to give the keynote address at the Bowling Green State University Graduate Conference.
Michael 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 started a non-profit organization that sponsors education and living expenses for child victims of human trafficking.
Michael and his family are currently based in Ann Arbor, MI, where Michael serves as Mary Fair Croushore Graduate Fellow at the University of Michigan’s Institute for the Humanities. Outside of his musical work, Michael can be found reading, watching bad action movies, and chasing his two young sons, Ronan and Elliott. He remains an unapologetic fan of Boston sports.