Michael Sirotta, Composer, Arranger, Conductor, Performer & Teacher



Michael has composed, directed, and performed music for concerts and theatrical productions around the world. He has worked with symphony orchestras, Avant-garde chamber music ensembles, African village drummers, opera companies, dancers and singers of the Lakota (Sioux) nation, and with theater and dance companies in New York, as well as instructing hundreds of young people in the techniques of music and musical theater.

Having completed musical studies in Philadelphia (Temple University), he became principal percussionist for the Philadelphia Composers' Forum, a chamber ensemble that specialized in the performance of contemporary music. While with the Forum, he recorded and performed many new musical works, including performing in the world premier of George Crumb's Lux Aeterna, as well as making the premier recording of his Songs, Drones and Refrains of Death.

Michael was principal tympanist for the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra for two seasons (1976 – 1978) and was principal percussionist for the Erick Hawkins Dance Theater. As musical director and composer in residence for the Solaris Dance Theater, he worked with Lakota (Sioux) dancers and singers and also with dancers and singers of the Congolese National Dance Theater (1980 –1981). At that time he developed musical ties with Jean Erdman’s Theater of the Open Eye composer, Dan Erkkila, with whom he collaborated in composing music for Julie Taymor’s The Way of Snow, presented at the Ark Theater in New York and also at International Puppetry Conference & Festival, Washington D.C. (1980).

His musical direction and orchestrational contributions to Elizabeth Swados’ The Beautiful Lady, helped garner the show the 1985 Helen Hayes Award for Best Play with Music. It was one of many collaborations Michael has had with the playwright/composer over a 29 year period, including his significant role in preparing vocal arrangements for Missionaries, Ms. Swados' opera about the infamous murder in El Salvador of four American Maryknoll missionary women in the 1980's (Missionaries was featured at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s 1997 Next Wave Festival).

In 1981, Michael began a long-standing association with New York’s La Mama Theater, participating as composer, musical director & performing musician in LaMama/Great Jones Repertory Company's productions of Danton’s Death, Mythos Oedipus, Jerusalem, The Monk And The Hangman’s Daughter, Fragments of a Greek Trilogy, Seven Against Thebes, Dionysos Filius Dei, Pabo & Ruisa, Queen Setsu, Carmilla, Seven (simultaneous revival of six Greek myth productions plus the creation of a seventh, Antigone, all performed 'in repertory' over a four week period), Perseus, Herakles, Carlo Gozzi's Il Corvo (performed at the 2006 Venetian Festival Biennale and again in New York in 2008), and most recently Aesclepius. Since 1998, he has been Composer in Residence at La Mama and has been a frequent international traveler with the Great Jones Company, composing, directing and performing music at theater festivals in Italy, Greece, Croatia, Austria, Serbia, Albania, Taiwan and Japan, as well as directing the music for Great Jones Repertory Company’s New York seasons at La Mama. Mr. Sirotta was twice nominated for the New York Innovative Theater Awards' Outstanding Original Music prize. In November, 2009, in collaboration with LaMama and the 11th Hour Theater Company, Michael composed the score for an authentic version of Aeschylus' Agamemnon, setting all of the Greek choruses to music in an elaborate 3 hour production involving a Greek chorus of 12, along with 3 principal actors.

From 1985 to 2009, Michael directed the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation’s Kids on Stage program on Staten Island. Over that period of time, hundreds of youngsters (including the well known 'indie' singer/songwriter, Ingrid Michaelson) received instruction from him in the techniques of musical theater performance as well as general vocal skills and harmonizing. He arranged or composed all the music for Kids on Stage shows, which included opera, operetta (including his original operetta Alice in Wonderland which you can read more about HERE), musical comedy, and other plays with music. For his work with this program, he was awarded the Arts and Humanities Achievement Award for the year 2000, presented by the Council Of The Arts & Humanities of Staten Island.

Currently, Michael is a member of the faculty of The College of Staten Island (CUNY), where he lectures in World Music.

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