The music of Michael Ellison defies categorization, seamlessly integrating contemporary and classical sensibilities with traditional influences into a unique and personal idiom. Described as “beautifully crafted, robust and absorbing” by American Record Guide, Ellison’s is a music of color and contrast, characterized by a mercurial rhythmic language, evocative atmosphere and emotional breadth. Having worked out of the epicenter of collision of cultures that is Istanbul for over ten years, Ellison’s recent work explores the integration of disparate traditions and sonic experiments into meaningful new forms.
Michael Ellison has received numerous awards for his compositions, including from Copland House (2006), the Beebe Foundation (New England Conservatory), the Ojai Festival, the Barlow Endowment, and ASCAP. The support of the Fulbright Foundation (1997-98) and ARIT (American Research Institute in Turkey) facilitated field research in the classical and folk music of Turkey (2000-1), research which continues to inform much of his current output. The National Endowment for the Arts funded the commission for the Borromeo Quartet of String Quartet #2 (2002), which the group subsequently toured throughout the United States, Turkey and Japan, and recorded on Innova Records. In 1995, Ellison’s Cry in the Wilderness, commissioned as winner of First Music 11 competition, was premiered by the New York Youth Symphony and Miguel Harth-Bedoya in Carnegie Hall. His chamber works have been performed by the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, the Berlin Saxophone Quartet, Frøydis Ree Wekre, the Calgary Philharmonic, and by flautist Helen Bledsoe at the Gaudeamus Festival in Amsterdam. Co-founder and co-Director of Istanbul’s groundbreaking Hezarfen Ensemble, he teaches composition at the University of Bristol.