NW Guitar Festival: Michael Nicolella in Concert
Equal Opportunity Institution. 24+ hours advance notice is appreciated for accommodations.
With a repertoire spanning from J.S. Bach and Domenico Scarlatti to Jimi Hendrix and Elliott Carter, Michael Nicolella is recognized as one of America’s most innovative classical guitarists. Described by Classical Guitar magazine as: “one of the contemporary guitar’s most gifted stars,” by Guitar Player magazine as a: “classical iconoclast, (who) continues to push the boundaries of the genre as both a composer and player,” and by the Washington Post as: “An artist with eclectic tastes and a contemplative bent…extraordinary…powerful.” He has received wide critical acclaim for his performances, recordings and compositions. As a concert artist, Michael has performed throughout North America, Europe and Japan as solo recitalist, chamber musician and soloist with orchestra.
Nicolella blurs the lines between musical styles and disciplines. He is part of a growing movement in classical music to revitalize the role of the composer/performer. As a concert artist he frequently programs his own music for guitar in solo, chamber and orchestral settings, including his works: Guitar Concerto (for classical guitar and orchestra), Ten Years Passed (for electric guitar and orchestra) and Flame of the Blue Star of Twilight (for soprano, guitar and orchestra). Known for his creative programming, he has introduced electric guitar into his “classical” programs and extended the repertoire and audience of his instrument not only with his own compositions and transcriptions, but also by premiering and commissioning works by some of today’s most exciting emerging composers. In reference to his abilities on the classical and electric guitar, noted guitar composer, scholar and critic John Duarte stated in an issue of Gramophone magazine that: “Others have ‘crossed the track’ in one direction or the other but none has done so with the technical and/or musical success as Nicolella, who, chameleon-like, achieves comparable distinction in both fields.”
Michael’s recording of his arrangement of the Complete Bach Cello Suites was described as a “monumental achievement” by Soundboard magazine while the Seattle Times commented “Nicolella’s smooth virtuosity and the great freedom of his playing … show the suites in an entirely new light.” His previous four critically acclaimed releases were albums of contemporary music for classical and electric guitar in solo, chamber, orchestral and electronic settings.
Nicolella has performed as soloist with such orchestras as: the Seattle Symphony, Symphony Tacoma and the Northwest Symphony Orchestra. He has performed with a wide range of artists including: Merce Cunningham Dance Company, Seattle Opera, Seattle Modern Orchestra, violinist Gil Shaham, sopranos Alexandra Picard and Joyce DiDonato, Broadway legends Bernadette Peters and Brian Stokes Mitchell, jazz vocalist Johnaye Kendrick, the Seattle Guitar Trio (which performed Michael’s groundbreaking arrangement of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring), as well as over one hundred concerts with the Seattle Symphony.
Michael is a graduate of Yale University, Berklee College of Music and the Accademia Chigiana in Siena, Italy. He is on the faculty of Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle.