Cellist Michael Mermagen (M.M. The Juilliard School, B.M. The Peabody Conservatory of Music) is Associate Professor of Cello at UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance. For over 25 years, he has served as Artist Faculty and Chamber Symphony Principal Cellist of the Aspen Music Festival and School. He was formerly Associate Professor of Cello and Chamber Music, Head of the Instrumental Division, and Adviser in Orchestral Instruments for the Bachelor and Master of Music Degrees at the Benjamin T. Rome School of Music at The Catholic University of America.
Michael made his debut at the age of sixteen with Baltimore Symphony Orchestra after receiving its Young Soloist’s Award. Michael began his studies at Peabody Preparatory where he studied with Paula Skolnick-Childress and Mihaly Virizlay. Principal teachers in college were Stephen Kates at Peabody Conservatory, and Zara Nelsova at The Juilliard School. As The Juilliard School’s concerto competition winner, he performed with Juilliard Orchestra under Otto-Werner Mueller in Alice Tully Hall. He was soloist with National Orchestra of New York, where he held the prestigious Emanuel Feuermann principal cello chair and performed in Violoncello Society of New York Master Classes lead by Yo-Yo Ma, Janos Starker, and Bernard Greenhouse.
Michael toured regularly with The Aspen Ensemble. He also toured with American Chamber Players from 1997 to 2003 and from 1987 to 1995 with Arista Piano Trio (named Chamber Music America’s Artists to Watch). He collaborated with the San Francisco Ballet and was featured as the cello soloist for the New York premiere of two works by the renowned choreographer Mark Morris. He joined violinist Jody Gatwood and pianist Marilyn Neeley in Rome Trio, a resident ensemble of The Catholic University of America. Michael is currently performing around the country with the Aspen String Trio, formerly the ensemble in residence at the University of Baltimore.
As an artist-faculty member at the Aspen Music Festival and School, Michael has held the prestigious position of principal cellist of the Aspen Chamber Symphony for over twenty-five seasons. He has performed chamber music in Aspen with such artists as Joshua Bell, Sarah Chang, Jeremy Denk, Vladimer Feltzman, Lynn Harrell, Robert McDuffie, Susanne Mentzer, Anton Nel, Nadja Salerno- Sonnenberg, Gil Shaham, The Takács Quartet, and the Weilerstein family. He has also collaborated with many distinguished conductors, including Comissiona, Conlon, Levine, Maazel, Marriner, McGegan, Robertson, Skrowaczewski, and Zinman.
For over twenty-five years, Michael has toured and given recitals, concerto performances, master classes and chamber music performances around the world. He has participated in Grand Canyon Music Festival, Prince Albert Music Festival in Kauai, and Bay Chamber Concerts in Rockport, Maine. He has been heard on WQXR’s Concerts Plus, WNYC’s Around New York, and regularly on NPR’s Performance Today. Michael performed live with Musica Sacra on A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor and performed as a substitute cellist in New York Philharmonic, Buffalo Philharmonic, New York City Ballet, Orchestra of Saint Lukes, 92nd Street Y Orchestra, Philharmonia Virtuosi of New York, American Symphony Orchestra, Brooklyn Philharmonic, and Long Island Philharmonic.
Michael recorded and performed the Patrick Zimmerli Piano Trios for Arabesque label, after a celebrated debut of the same pieces at Seattle Chamber Music Society. Upcoming commercial releases include the Music of Martinu for Naxos label with the Aspen String Trio. Recent appearances include the performance of Brahms Double Concerto with violinist Livia Sohn and Stockton Symphony, again with violinist David Perry and the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra, Beethoven Triple Concerto with Elisabeth Adkins and Edward Newman and the Maryland and Fairfax Symphonies, and Vivaldi Concertos with conductor Nicholas McGegan. He performs on a Nicolo Gagliano cello, Naples, 1774.