Michael Nicolella


Seattle, WA
5 Played at 5 groupmuses!

Michael Nicolella



With a repertoire spanning from J.S. Bach and Domenico Scarlatti to Jimi Hendrix and Elliott Carter, Michael Nicolella is recognized as one of America's most innovative classical guitar virtuosos. Described by Classical Guitar magazine as: “one of the contemporary guitar’s most gifted stars” and by Guitar Player as a: “classical iconoclast (who) continues to push the boundaries of the genre as both a composer and player,” he has received wide critical acclaim for his performances, recordings and compositions. As a concert artist, Michael has performed throughout North America, Europe and Japan as solo recitalist, chamber musician and soloist with orchestra.

Michael blurs the lines between musical styles and disciplines. He is part of a growing trend in classical music to revitalize the role of the composer/performer. As a concert artist he frequently programs his own works for guitar in solo, chamber and orchestral settings. Known for his creative programming, he has introduced electric guitar into his ‘classical’ programs and extended the repertoire and audience of his instrument not only with his own compositions and transcriptions, but also by premiering and commissioning works by some of today's most exciting emerging composers. His work as both a classical and electric guitarist prompted John Duarte to state in Gramophone magazine that: "Others have 'crossed the track' in one direction or the other but none has done so with the technical and/or musical success as Nicolella, who, chameleon-like, achieves comparable distinction in both fields.”

Michael's newest recording, a double album of his arrangement of the Complete Bach Cello Suites was described as a “monumental achievement” by Soundboard magazine and as “performances that show the suites in an entirely new light” by the Seattle Times. His previous four critically acclaimed releases were albums of contemporary music for classical and electric guitar. A frequent performer with the Seattle Symphony, Nicolella has also collaborated with a wide range of artists including: Northwest Symphony Orchestra, Seattle Modern Orchestra, Merce Cunningham Dance Company, violinist Gil Shaham, Broadway legends Bernadette Peters and Brian Stokes Mitchell, singer Jon Anderson of the legendary prog-rock band Yes, jazz vocalist Johnaye Kendrick, Charanga Danzon, and the Seattle Guitar Trio, which performed Michael's groundbreaking arrangement of Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring."

Michael is a graduate of Yale University, Berklee College of Music and the Accademia Chigiana in Siena, Italy. He is on the faculty of Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle.


A sampling of current repertoire:
Torre Bermeja, Granada, Rumores de la Caleta - Isaac Albeniz
Ciaconna - J.S. Bach
Ständchen - Franz Schubert
Fantasie No.7, Op.30 - Fernando Sor
Two Minuets - Nicolo Paganini
Two Sonatas - Domenico Scarlatti
Two Preludes - Michael Nicolella
Shard - Elliott Carter
Electric Counterpoint - Steve Reich
Help Me - Philip Glass



Ensemble profiles

Past groupmuses (5)

  • Virtual Premiere

    MICHAEL NICOLELLA: Classical Guitar Concert. RC Strings Artists Guitar Concert Series

    Sunday, Jul 3, 2022 9:00 PM CEST

    • Neighborhood: Seattle, Washington, USA
    • Composers: Bach, Albeniz, de Falla, Debussy, Zappa
    • Instruments: Classical Guitar
    • Price: Free event

    Happened almost 2 years ago

  • Music in our living room

    Saturday, Jan 11, 2020 7:00 PM PST

    • Neighborhood: Wallingford, Seattle
    • Composers: Mozart, Schubert, Falla, Barber, Hendrix
    • Instruments: Voice and guitar
    • Price: $5 to reserve, $20+ at event

    Happened over 4 years ago

  • evening of music in Wallingford

    Thursday, Sep 19, 2019 7:00 PM PDT

    • Neighborhood: Wallingford, Seattle
    • Composers: Mozart, Falla, Villa-Lobos, Barber
    • Instruments: Voice and guitar
    • Price: $5 to reserve, $20+ at event

    Happened over 4 years ago

  • Groupmuse on Nov 4th

    Saturday, Nov 4, 2017 7:00 PM PDT

    • Neighborhood: Northeast Seattle, Seattle
    • Composers: Bach, Giuliani
    • Instruments: Classical guitar
    • Price: $5 to reserve, $20+ at event

    Happened over 6 years ago

  • Groupmuse on Capitol Hill

    Friday, Mar 18, 2016 7:30 PM PDT

    • Neighborhood: Capitol Hill, Seattle
    • Price: $5 to reserve, $20+ at event

    Happened about 8 years ago