"What excites me about the Ear Taxi Festival is that it puts on display all the best features of how new music in Chicago has developed recently; it is a space for truly fruitful experimentation, genuine artistic rigor, and pursuit of real musical integrity.”
Michael Lewanski enjoys a varied career as a champion of contemporary music and standard repertoire. 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 recently as a guest conductor with chamber ensembles from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), the Chicago Chamber Musicians, the Toledo Symphony Orchestra, the Spektral Quartet, the Fifth House Ensemble, the Rembrandt Chamber Players, and many others. He has led over 100 world premieres. He is 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 Third Coast Percussion, Spektral Quartet, soprano Kayleigh Butcher, saxophonist Ryan Muncy.
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 technique and preparation. 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. For many years Michael was the conducting assistant at the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, the Chicago Symphony's training ensemble. 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.