Composer | Singer MARISA MICHELSON is a multi-award winning writer of interdisciplinary music-theatre, choral work, and musicals, and is the founder of Constellation Chor, an immersion in voice, movement and spirit. She is also a sought-after voice teacher who works with singers of all levels and genres from beginners to Broadway stars.
Marisa’s “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). Her music has been called “exquisite” (The New York Times) and “otherworldly” (Steven Suskin).
Marisa’s 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 and a 2018 inaugural Eric Salzman Award for New Music Theatre. It was developed with support from acclaimed opera company Heartbeat Opera and historic 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 with 2020 tour dates TBD. 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.”
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, was presented by the National Opera Association in early 2019 in Salt Lake City after headlining NYC’s 2018 River to River Festival where it 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.
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.
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.
Marisa is currently developing a new piece with director/choreographer Chase Brock for The Chase Brock Experience.
Marisa is a MacDowell and Ucross fellow and has also been in residence at the Blue Mountain Center; Theatreworks Palo Alto; New Dramatists; Montclair University; Millkin University.
Awards: 2018 inaugural Eric Salzman Award for New Music Theatre; 2018 National Endowment for the Arts grant recipient; 2017 Creative Engagement Award (Lower Manhattan Cultural Council); Winner of a Jonathan Larson Award; American Musical Voices: The Next Generation; St. Botolph Award for Composition; Grant to study Indian Hindustani singing in India.
Recordings: Tamar of the River (Yellow Sound Label); Broadway Lullaby Project (“All New “ singer: Nikki M. James).
Marisa sang with Meredith Monk in Songs of Ascension at BAM. As a voice teacher, she maintains a private studio in Washington Heights and has taught at The Performing Arts Project (TPAP), The American Theatre Wing, Millikin University, the University of the Puget Sound, the Signature Theatre, and Montclair University.