Known for her skill creating works of musical wit and whimsy, Chicago-based composer and orchestrator Michelle Isaac writes music of an eclectic nature, a mix of intricate and imaginative storytelling and humor grounded in a mastery of orchestration. With a focus on the narrative and empathetic powers of music, in addition to the classical sphere, Ms. Isaac’s interests lie in the film and video game worlds, and she often incorporates cinematic elements into her pieces. Ms. Isaac is currently Chicago Sinfonietta’s inaugural Project Inclusion Freeman Composing Fellow (2020-21), receiving mentorship from Music Director Mei-Ann Chen, composers Jennifer Higdon, Joel Thompson, and Kathryn Bostic.
Her work has been heard around the country, with notable performances including Chicago Sinfonietta at Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park and at Chicago’s Symphony Center, the College of Saint Benedict/Saint John’s University Wind Ensemble, and the University of Wisconsin-River Falls Percussion Ensemble. Her latest orchestral commission, Moshe’s Dream, was previewed at Chicago Sinfonietta’s 2021 Ball and will receive its public premiere in May 2022. The work is inspired by a dream her ninety-nine-year-old grandfather had about her starting a klezmer band and includes many Jewish folk idioms. Her most recent song cycle Hope! (2020), premiered in April 2021 by Nick Ward, baritone, and Daniel Baer, piano, recounts the personal story of a young non-speaking individual with autism.
In addition to her work as a composer, Ms. Isaac is an accomplished percussionist and a pianist. She earned her Master of Music in Composition from the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University, where she studied with Stacy Garrop and Kyong Mee Choi, and her Bachelor of Arts in Music from the College of Saint Benedict. She resides in Chicago.