Composer In Residence - Michael Nicolella

Nicolella Composer in Residence

Acclaimed guitarist and composer Michael Nicolella serves the Northwest Symphony and our community in two valuable ways.

First, he composes music that the orchestra performs, such as “Ten Years Passed,” which premiered at the orchestra’s 20th anniversary gala concert in May 2007. The NWSO has performed two of his works to date—compositions that are consistently original, highly musical, and always well received by audiences.

Second, as a musician, Michael has carved out a niche as an outreach performer in schools for students from preschool to high school, as well as for individuals with mental illness. Education outreach is a central focus for Michael, and he has held student master classes and performances in 11 different Highline District schools, as well as throughout North America. “It is always a thrill to introduce (or reacquaint) classical music to an attentive young audience,” Michael says.

As a classically trained guitarist, he’s also not afraid of breaking out of the classical mold once in a while. “I performed a concert at the Highline Performing Arts Center for over 400 students ranging from third to 12th grade from 11 Highline schools".

I played music of Scarlatti, Piazzolla, Schumann, Albeniz, and myself on classical guitar, before ending with an arrangement of Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Little Wing’ on solo electric guitar. I was especially pleased—and amused—to read the collection of sincere and candid thank-you notes from the fourth grade students at Marvista Elementary, which were accompanied by a large card emblazoned with ‘YOU ROCK’ on the front. High praise indeed!”

Along with NWSO conductor Anthony Spain and Masguda Shamsutinova, Michael was part of our National Endowment for the Arts/City of SeaTac/City of Burien-sponsored education project for our 20th anniversary concert last May. 

We hope to continue this important tradition of sharing classical music and its many forms with school-age children in our community, and our distinguished composer-in-residence Michael Nicolella has helped make a difference in the lives of many children.

If you are a parent, teacher, or school administrator and are interested in having a musical visit at your school in the Highline School District, please contact the Northwest Symphony Orchestra at 206-242-6321.