Conductor, educator, and writer Michael Lewanski is champion of contemporary music and standard repertoire alike. His work seeks to create deeper and more engaged connections between audiences, musicians, and the music that is part of their culture and history. He was appointed Assistant Professor of Instrumental Ensembles at the DePaul University School of Music in 2012 after having served as an adjunct professor since 2007. He is the conductor of the DePaul Chamber Orchestra, Ensemble 20+ (20th and 21st century music), co-conductor of the DePaul Wind Ensemble, and frequent guest conductor of the DePaul Symphony Orchestra. Michael is conductor of the internationally acclaimed Chicago-based Ensemble Dal Niente. He attended the 2012 Darmstadt International Summer Courses for New Music where Ensemble Dal Niente, under his direction, became the first ensemble to be awarded the prestigious Kranichstein Music Prize.
Michael has collaborated as a guest conductor with chamber ensembles from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Civic Orchestra of Chicago, International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), Chicago Chamber Musicians, Toledo Symphony Orchestra, Detroit Symphony Civic Youth Orchestra, Spektral Quartet, Fifth House Ensemble, Rembrandt Chamber Players, among many others. He has led over 100 world premieres. He was the conducting assistant at the Civic Orchestra of Chicago. Michael’s recordings include works by Franco Donatoni, Dai Fujikura, Kurt Westerberg, Aaron Einbond, Kyong-Mee Choi, and Janice Misurell-Mitchell. He has acted as producer of recordings by saxophonist Ryan Muncy and Third Coast Percussion.
A native of Savannah, Georgia, he made his conducting debut at age 13 with the Savannah Symphony Orchestra. At 16, he was the youngest student ever accepted into the conducting class of the legendary Ilya Musin at the St. Petersburg Conservatory in Russia. Michael attended Yale University, where his studies included conducting with Lawrence Leighton Smith and piano with Sara Laimon. He was music director of the Yale Bach Society Orchestra and conductor of the Yale College Opera Company. His post-Yale education featured conducting study with Cliff Colnot, focusing on rehearsal techniques and preparation of all kinds of ensembles. He has also studied with Lucas Vis.
In addition to the 2012 Darmstadt Summer Courses, recent festival appearances include the 2010 and 2012 Chicago Youth in Music Festival, the 2010 Unbound Festival of American Chamber Music, the 2011 Unruly Music Festival, the 2012 and 2013 International Beethoven Festivals, the 2013 Ecstatic Music Festival, the 2013 MusicArte festival in Panama, the 2013 Bowling Green New Music Festival, the 2014 Northwestern New Music Conference. Michael has held an appointment as conductor of the Columbia College Chicago-sponsored Columbia Community Symphony Orchestra. He has been an assistant conductor of the Northwest Indiana Symphony Orchestra. He was formerly music director of the Skokie Concert Choir. He has collaborated with stage director Paul Koch on a number of nontraditional productions of Baroque opera. As a pianist and harpsichordist, he has appeared throughout the Chicago area accompanying singers and instrumentalists. Michael is also an active writer, chamber music coach, arranger, and conducting teacher. As an educator of pre-collegiate students, he has worked with the Chicago Academy for the Arts and the Elgin Youth Symphony.
Michael’s schedule in the 2015-16 concert season includes concerts with four DePaul School of Music Ensembles; a full season with Ensemble Dal Niente (including appearances in Seattle, Boston, New York, June in Buffalo, and a recording release on New Amsterdam recordings); return engagements with the Toledo Symphony and Detroit Symphony Civic Youth Orchestra; recording projects; and a composers project with the Civic Orchestra of Chicago.
Articles by Michael Lewanski:
Chicago is a particularly concentrated expression of confluences in current culture, and the evidence of this is both the explosive energy of the city’s new music community in recent years...