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Composition Faculty

Instrumental Faculty

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Early Music Faculty

Michael Nicolella

Adjunct Instructor

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Michael Nicolella

Recognized as one of America’s most innovative classical guitarists Michael Nicolella has received wide critical acclaim for his performances, recordings, and compositions. Classical Guitar magazine referred to Nicolella as “one of the contemporary guitar’s most gifted stars” while the Washington Post stated “Since the passing of Andres Segovia the guitar world has needed an advocate… perhaps Michael Nicolella is that person.”

A uniquely eclectic and versatile artist, Nicolella blurs the lines between musical styles and disciplines. Nicolella frequently programs his own works for guitar in solo, chamber, and orchestral settings. His most recent major piece, “Flame of the Blue Star of Twilight” (for soprano, guitar and orchestra), received its premiere performance by the Northwest Symphony Orchestra with soprano Alexandra Picard.

His latest recording, “Ten Years Passed,” features Nicolella’s composition for electric guitar and orchestra along with music by Henze, ter Veldhuis, Beaser, Vazquez, Wallace, Crane, and Lennon/McCartney. The album was an editor’s pick by Guitar Player magazine, and a follow up to his two prior, critically acclaimed, albums of contemporary music for classical and electric guitar “Push” and “Shard.” A double album of his arrangement of the complete cycle of Cello Suites by J.S. Bach is set for release in early 2014.

Nicolella has performed throughout North America and Europe. In December 2012 he completed a solo tour of Japan through the auspices of the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo. He has performed with the Seattle Symphony, Northwest Symphony Orchestra, Merce Cunningham Dance Company, Ensemble Sospeso, odeonquartet, Seattle Choral Company, Seattle Guitar Trio, and Charanga Danzon. As a performer and composer, he has received awards from ASCAP, the American Composers Forum, 4Culture, Wisconsin Arts Board, Washington State Arts Commission, and the Seattle Arts Commission. He was first-prize winner of both the Portland and Northwest solo classical guitar competitions.

Nicolella received his undergraduate degree from Berklee College of Music, where he studied improvisation with Gary Burton and Billy Pierce, and a Master of Music degree from Yale University where he studied guitar with Benjamin Verdery and composition with Martin Bresnick and Jonathan Berger. He joined the music faculty of Cornish College of the Arts in 2010.