Michelle Makarski is an American violinist with an international reputation for the newest in American and international music, although her repertoire is broad and includes music of all periods, starting from the Baroque period. She is an strong and imaginative improviser, whether the style is Baroque ornamentation or jazz.
Makarski described her birthplace as "the far western Upper Peninsula of Michigan on Lake Superior," although sheRead more spent most of her childhood days growing up in Detroit, at the opposite corner of the state. Her father was a musician and began teaching her, but soon graduated her to other teachers, including Mischa Mischakoff, concertmaster of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra who had also been Toscanini's concertmaster.
She took high school at the Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan. She studied at the University of Michigan with Paul Makanowitzky, and in Europe with Nathan Milstein. She credits her studies with three very powerful but different personalities with having established a foundation.
She found herself playing music of American composers. She entered the Carnegie International American Music Competition, so that she could have more of an opportunity to give a venue to the American composers whose works she was playing: Samuel Barber, Steven Hartke, Wallingford Rieger, William Bolcom, and William Schuman. She won the competition in 1989, and immediately got an opportunity to play the Barber concerto widely, as well as the other works, getting a reputation as an American music specialist. In fact, she denies any intention to specialize in any era, style, or nationality of music, and when she began taking an interest in Baroque and pre-Baroque violin music, quickly explained that she was not trying to become a period performance specialist--"I'm simply trying to play the repertoire I choose to play." She is also winner of the Alberto Curci Competition in Naples, and took the Beethoven Sonata Prize at the Carl Flesch Competition in London.
She has appeared as a concerto soloist with the American Symphony Orchestra, the American Composers Orchestra, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Scarlatti Orchestra of the RAI in Italy, the Istanbul State Symphony, and the Munich Chamber Orchestra. She has also appeared with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and The Hilliard Ensemble.
She has also appeared in the Lincoln Center Great Performers Series, including an important performance with Keith Jarrett. This led to her being asked by Manfred Eicher, the head of Jarrett's record label ECM, to record with him and, subsequently, on her own. ECM, one of the world's leading labels devoted to avant-garde classical and jazz music, has released her playing in Jarrett's "Bridge of Light" album, her own solo album "Caoine" (pronounced "keen" and meaning a keen or wailing), a jazz album called "From the Green Hill" with trumpeter Tomasz Stanko, and another solo CD, "Elogio per un ombra." She has also recorded Hartke's violin concerto and an album of American works with pianist Brent McMunn on the New World label.
Makarski has been profiled on NBC-TV's "Real Life with Jane Pauley" and on the European TV documentary program "Music Hotel," the latter concerning the ECM label's New Series Musiktage in Germany. BBC Music Magazine listed her as one of the most important violinists of the day in its "Who's Who in Music" feature.
Makarski teaches master classes widely, including the Interlochen Arts Academy, the North Carolina School of the Arts, the University of Michigan, Oberlin Conservatory, Mainz University in Germany, the Detmold, Germany Hochschule für Musik and the Lucerne Conservatory in Switzerland. Read less