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Michael Isaacson

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Michael Isaacson

Biography

Michael Isaacson (b. 22 April 1946, Brooklyn, N.Y.) is an American composer, author and educator.

Dr. Isaacson received his early education at Yeshiva Rambam, James Madison & Sheepshead Bay High Schools. After earning a Bachelor of Science degree in music education from Hunter College, a Master of Arts degree in music composition with Robert Starer from Brooklyn College, keyboard studies at the Juilliard School with John Mehegan, ethnomusicology with Israel Adler and Amnon Shiloach at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, he went on to study with Samuel Adler, Warren Benson, and Rayburn Wright at the Eastman School of Music ultimately earning his Ph.D. there in composition. He later studied with Lehman Engel in the BMI Musical Theatre Workshop.

In 1973 Dr. Isaacson taught theory, composition, orchestration and conducted the Festival Chorus at SUNY Fredonia. In 1974 he was simultaneously appointed instructor at Case Western, the Cleveland Institute of Music, and music director of Tifereth Israel Temple in Cleveland, Ohio.

In Los Angeles, from 1976 to 1990, while holding adjunct faculty positions at Loyola Marymount, Cal State-Long Beach, UCLA, AJR-LA, and Hebrew Union College, Dr. Isaacson composed and conducted original scores and arranged for many well-known television series including The Bob Hope Show, John Williams & The Boston Pops and the daytime dramas Loving and Days of Our Lives.

Founding artistic director of The Israel Pops Orchestra, and the Milken Archive of American Jewish Music, Dr. Isaacson enjoys a distinguished career as a composer, conductor, producer, author, and educator with over 600 Jewish and secular musical compositions published, including instrumental, vocal, sacred and secular arrangements, editions and educational works, the three-volume, 750-page Michael Isaacson Songbook, and over 50 produced CDs and album recordings. The American Society of Jewish Music, Hebrew Union College, and the Jewish Theological Seminary honored him as one of the ten most influential living composers of Jewish music. On the faculty of AJR/LA and a frequent guest lecturer in Jewish Studies on University campuses, he has also authored Jewish Music as Midrash: What Makes Music Jewish?

Dr. Isaacson has conducted, toured and produced new recordings of symphonic music with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, the Tel Aviv Symphony, the Munich Philharmonic, the Mexico City Philharmonic, the Vermont Symphony and Chorus, the Bulgarian National Symphony, the Czech Chamber Orchestra, the Hollywood Pops, and the Israel String Quartet.

When Hebrew Union College awarded Prime Minister of Israel Yitzchak Shamir an honorary doctorate in November 1991, Dr. Isaacson was selected as music director for the convocation and commissioned to compose a large musical work in Prime Minister Shamir’s honor. The resulting dramatic work for men, children’s voices, brass and percussion is entitled Psalms for a Leader.

Michael Isaacson is the recipient of grants, honors and awards from The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, Meet the Composer Inc., the Eastman School of Music, the Schubert Foundation, ASCAP, The International Archive of Jewish Music, the American Conference of Cantors, Hebrew Union College, Jewish Theological Seminary, American Society for Jewish Music, and the Cantors Assembly's highest tribute for lifetime achievement in synagogue music; The Kavod Award. In May, 2017 he was honored with a Doctor of Humane Letters honoris causa from Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion “for extraordinary contributions to contemporary Jewish liturgical music”.


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