Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra: making great music personal

Michael Nowak


Michael Nowak, music director of the San Luis Obispo Symphony since 1984, is an alumnus of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, having served as violist under Sir Neville Marriner from 1975 to 1980. Under Nowak’s leadership, the San Luis Obispo Symphony has performed in Carnegie Hall, the Sydney Opera House and Walt Disney Concert Hall. All of these concerts featured LACO horn Richard Todd as a featured guest artist.

Born in Providence, Rhode Island, Nowak began his musical education in the Warwick Public School system where he learned violin, clarinet, tuba and composition. He became a student of the legendary violist, William Primrose, at Indiana University and the Music Academy of the West. Upon graduation, Nowak was invited to serve as assistant conductor and violist with the Dallas Symphony under Anshel Brusilow.

In 1973, Nowak was chosen to conduct the YMF Debut Orchestra, a position he held for two years before joining the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. In 1980, he began his association with Helmuth Rilling at the Oregon Bach Festival, where he served as principal violist for many years. He is a featured artist on the Brandenburg Concerti recordings. He was also a member of the Music for Mischa string quartet with LACO concertmaster Margaret Batjer, and has performed at numerous chamber music festivals including the Anchorage, Martha’s Vineyard and Rhode Island festivals.

Active as a guest conductor, Nowak has led the Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra, the Oregon Mozart Players, the Monterey Bay Orchestra and the Oregon Bach Festival Chamber Orchestra, among others. He has conducted the soundtracks for such notable motion pictures as The Kiterunner, Lions for Lambs, Bobby, American Gangster and Bedtime Stories. Michael Nowak recently made his big screen debut portraying the Juilliard conductor in the film The Soloist.

Michael Nowak

photo Jennifer Manuele

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