about marisa


Composer | Singer Marisa Michelson creates interdisciplinary music-theatre, choral work, and musicals, and is the Founding Director of the psychedelic singing collective Constellation Chor | an immersion in voice, movement, and spirit.  

The collective performs internationally and in New York City, and has expanded organically into the new music community, making their Lincoln Center debut in 2018 premiering Ash Fure’s Filament (New York Philharmonic conducted by Jaap van Zweden), and collaborating with artists and venues such as Claire Chase, Sarah Hennies, Paola Prestini, Maria Popova, Heartbeat Opera, Harvard Art Lab, Spectrum and Pioneer Works.

Since 2016, the Chor has been engaging at the intersection of singing, movement, deep listening, ritual-making and music-theatre while in ongoing residence at the historic Judson Memorial Church. In addition to collaborating with composers, choreographers, directors, videographers, and interdisciplinary artists, they also perform interdisciplinary pieces composed by Michelson. 

Michelson’s award-winning compositions and theatre pieces have been called “exquisite” (The New York Times), “otherworldly” (Steven Suskin), “gorgeous…adventurous” (Vox Magazine). Her off-Broadway musicals include Tamar of the River starring Margo Seibert (Prospect Theater; 2 Drama Desk Nominations) and One Thousand Nights and One Day starring Sepideh Moafi (Prospect Theatre, ART NY).  Naamah’s Ark, her oratorio for five choirs starring Victoria Clark (River to River festival in Rockefeller Park) was conducted by Ted Sperling.

Residencies: MacDowell, Ucross, New Dramatists, Pioneer Works, National Sawdust, Blue Mountain Center.

Awards: National Endowment for the Arts, the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, Jonathan Larson Award, Eric Salzman Award for Music-Theatre, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, MacDowell, Ucross, New Dramatists, Jonathan Larson Award. Upcoming: Toulmin co-fellow (along with Miriam Parker) with Center for Ballet Arts and National Sawdust. Marisa lives, works and teaches in New York City and Hudson, NY. www.marisamichelson.com www.marisamichelsonvocalstudio.com

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Composer | Singer Marisa Michelson creates interdisciplinary music-theatre, choral work, and musicals, and is the Founding Director of the psychedelic singing collective Constellation Chor* | an immersion in voice, movement, and spirit.  The collective performs internationally and in New York City, and has expanded organically into the new music community, making their Lincoln Center debut in 2018 premiering Ash Fure’s Filament (New York Philharmonic conducted by Jaap van Zweden), and collaborating with artists and venues such as Claire Chase, Sarah Hennies, Paola Prestini, Maria Popova, Heartbeat Opera, Harvard Art Lab, Spectrum and Pioneer Works. Since 2016, the Chor has been engaging at the intersection of singing, movement, deep listening, ritual-making and music-theatre while in ongoing residence at the historic Judson Memorial Church. In addition to collaborating with composers, choreographers, directors, videographers, and interdisciplinary artists, they also perform interdisciplinary pieces composed by Michelson.  Michelson’s award-winning compositions and theatre pieces have been called “exquisite” (The New York Times), “otherworldly” (Steven Suskin), “gorgeous…adventurous” (Vox Magazine). Her “sonic expressions, from ethereal sounds to primal screams, animalistic wails and simply breath” have been likened to “vocal innovators like Kate Bush, Bjork, Florence Welch and even Yoko Ono.” (StageBiz). Maria Popova of Brain Pickings has called her a “visionary aural architect.” 

Marisa’s interdisciplinary music-theatre piece, Song of Song of Songs (Part One of her Desire/Divinity project), won a 2017 Creative Engagement Award from the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council.  It was developed with support from opera company Heartbeat Opera and Judson Memorial Church. Part Two of the Desire/Divinity Project is Sappho Fragments, a music-theatre, body and voice-based exploration of Sappho’s poetry fragments as translated by Anne Carson.  Sappho and SOSOS premiered together in February 2018 and Marisa won the inaugural Eric Salzman Award for Music Theatre for both. Of the Desire/Divinity Project, StageBiz said: “The experience is truly transcendent, in a time where such expressions of love and spirituality vary, if they exist at all. Marisa Michelson and the Constellation Chor have created a sacred space through the openness of their hearts and voices, starting with themselves.” 

Called “heavenly” by Time Out Magazine where it was also a critics pick, Marisa’s musical One Thousand Nights and One Day – an adaptation of Jason Grote’s acclaimed play,1001, was produced by Prospect Theatre off-Broadway at the new ARTNY Theatre in April, 2018.  One Thousand Nights and One Day was workshopped with York Theatre in May 2013 after previous residencies at Theaterworks, Palo Alto, New Dramatists, and Montclair University’s New Works Institute. 

Tamar of the River, her experimental musical (written with Joshua H. Cohen) was produced by Prospect Theater in 2013, nominated for two Drama Desk Awards, and released as a cast album on Yellow Sound Label in 2014. About Tamar of the River, Vox Magazine wrote “Tamar sometimes sounds like it hails from a world where pop music followed a very different evolutionary path. Its Asian-influenced sounds are the opposite of Hamilton’s contemporary tones but it’s just as adventurous” and New York Magazine called Tamar “one of the most extraordinary scores in years.” Tamar of the River was also produced as a theatrical oratorio for Choral Chameleon.

Naamah’s Ark, her oratorio written for five choirs/150+ singers which tells the story of “Noah’s Ark” from his wife’s point of view, headlined 2018’s River to River Festival and starred Tony Award Winner Victoria Clark in the title role.  Naamah’s Ark (libretto by Royce Vavrek) was originally commissioned by Ted Sperling for MasterVoices as part of their inaugural community outreach initiative providing an opportunity for a community to make music regardless of their abilities or backgrounds.

In 2014, Marisa collaborated with librettist Mark Campbell on The Other Room (Barrow Group Theatre, Inner Voices) which starred Phoebe Strole as Lena, a woman reflecting on her profound love for her friend Steve during the AIDS crisis in NYC in the 1990s. The Other Room was subsequently produced by Studios of Key West and Arbeit Opera Theater and is currently available for licensing.  

Residencies: MacDowell, Ucross, New Dramatists, Pioneer Works, National Sawdust, Blue Mountain Center. Awards: 2021 Toulmin Co-Fellow with Miriam Parker; National Endowment for the Arts, the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, Jonathan Larson Award, Eric Salzman Award for Music-Theatre, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Jonathan Larson Award.

Marisa lives, works and teaches singing in New York City and Ancram, NY. www.marisamichelson.com www.marisamichelsonvocalstudio.com www.constellationchor.com

awards


2020/2021 – Toulmin Foundation Awarded Co-Fellow (with Miriam Parker) for National Sawdust and Center for Ballet Arts

2019 – Support from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts for Constellation Chor

2018 – Inaugural Eric Salzman Award for New Music Theatre for Song of Song of Songs 

2018 – Winner (with co-writer Jason Grote) of a National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Grant for the new musical One Thousand Nights and One Day 

2017 – Winner of a Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Creative Engagement Grant for Marisa Michelson’s Desire | Divinity Project

2016 – Residency at the Blue Mountain Center

2015 – MacDowell and UCross Fellowships 

2014 – Weston Playhouse Writer’s Residency 

2012 – Winner of a NAMT (National Alliance for Musical Theatre) Writer’s Residency award to work on The Grid at Millikin University.

2011 – Winner (with Joshua H. Cohen) of the Jonathan Larson Award

2011 – Theatreworks Palo Alto Writers Residency

2010 – Commissioned by Montclair University´s New Works Initiative to create a new musical adaptation of Jason Grote´s play, 1001

2009 – Winner of the American Musical Voices Project: the Next Generation commission from the Shen Family Foundation to create an original full-length musical for the Tony-Award Winning Signature Theatre (Arlington, VA): First full workshop, Tamar of the River, July 2010

2008 – The Shen Family Foundation Developmental Grant, in conjunction with the Signature Theater´s “American Musical Voices Project: the Next Generation” – Honoree

2008 – New Dramatists Composer-Librettist Workshop. `

2007 – Fellowship to Compose Music and study Indian Hindustani singing in India

2006 – Winner of St. Botolph Grant-in-Aid for Composition