Originally from Massachusetts and an enthusiastic Red Sox fan, Michael is a pianist as well as a composer whose music draws from “an eclectic brew of influences including jazz and New Orleans, Renaissance polyphony, Jewish liturgy and klezmer, and South Indian classical music.”
He earned his BA in 2009 from Harvard, where he directed the Harvard Chamber Singers and founded and directed the Harvard Jazz Collective, performing in concerts and master classes with Herbie Hancock, Joshua Redman, Roy Haynes, Roy Hargrove, Don Byron, and many others.
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. He spent the 2009-2010 academic year in Chennai, India, studying South Indian classical singing and vina playing. He returned there earlier this year to continue his research on melodic structures in South Indian classical music and work on a joint project transcribing and cataloging ragas with vina virtuoso Karaikudi S. Subramanian.
As a composer, Michael has received recognition from BMI, ASCAP, and the American Composers Forum, and his orchestral work “Freylekhe Tanzen” was selected for the ill-fated 2013 Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute.
In 2013, the University of Michigan in partnership with the Gershwin family 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.
Other recent and upcoming projects include premieres with the New York Virtuoso Singers, the Vocal Essence Ensemble Singers, and the Aurea Silva Trio, as well as collaborations with Subramanian, the Berkeley Community Chorus and Orchestra, the Jameson Singers, bass-baritone Davone Tines, and saxophonist Eddie Goodman.
For the 2014 MICF, Michael has written a new work called “Five-Six-Seven-Eight,” that will be one of eight world premieres performed by resident ensemble Alarm Will Sound for the Festival’s grand finale on Saturday, July 26 at the Missouri Theatre.
“The opportunity to write for an ensemble with the timbral palette of a full orchestra but the locked-in tightness of a Pro Tools session perhaps overly piqued my imagination, and I wanted to use this piece to explore a greater range of textures and ideas than one coherent movement could reasonably accommodate,” he said. “As such, the work consists of four miniatures, each between one and two minutes in length. The title, a reference to the common bandstand count-in, reflects the different dance-inspired characters of each miniature.”
You can hear more of Michael Schacter’s music on his website, and in the videos below.
The world premiere performance of “Three Wallace Stevens Songs”
on March 30, 2014 by The New York Virtuoso Singers
The final three minutes of “Oseh Shalom Bimromav,” winner of the Berkeley Community Chorus & Orchestra’s Young Composer Competition, performed in May 2013 by the BCCO.
“II. Jig, for Cello and Piano” (2011) performed by Schachter (piano) and Pierre Derycz (cello) at 2012 Midwest Composers Symposium at Indiana University, Bloomington, IN.