Michael Gelfand, Cello

Michael Gelfand is a veteran performer of orchestra concerts on both sides of the podium, as both conductor and cellist.

Gelfand received his Bachelor of Music degree at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana, and the Master of Music degree at the Cleveland Institute of Music in cello and conducting. Doctoral studies were at the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.

He has been the Music Director/Conductor of the Greenville Symphony Orchestra (PA) since 2002, conducting many concerts of orchestra, chamber orchestra, concerti, choral works, young audience concerts, and pops concerts. From 1992 – 2008 he was the Music Director/Conductor of the Ashtabula Area Orchestra. Gelfand was Professor of Music at the Dana School of Music at Youngstown State University from 1975 – 2014, and from 1980 – 1990 was Director of Orchestra and Chamber Orchestra, Opera and Musical Theater. He received YSU’s Distinguished Professor Award and was named Professor Emeritus.

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Mr. Gelfand’s conducting repertoire includes orchestral music ranging through all the musical periods for chamber orchestra, orchestra, concerti for all instruments, full ballet productions, vocal pieces, and choral works, musical theater, and opera. His opera and musical theater credits include full-length productions of the Pirates of Penzance, Red Mill, Cosi fan Tutte, Guys and Dolls, Marriage of Figaro, Kiss Me Kate, Tender Land, the Boyfriend, Dido and Aeneas, Trouble in Tahiti, Gypsy Baron, and Don Pasquale.

Recent guest conducting has included return engagements in Bulgaria with the Vidin State Philharmonic and the Sofia Sinfonette, as part of the Bulgarian Cultural Exchange with Maestro Svilen Simeonov. While in Sofia Gelfand taught cello masterclasses at the Sofia Conservatory of Music. Every summer, he conducts the 80-member Chamber Orchestra in Rapid City, South Dakota. Other guest conducting in South Dakota includes conducting city-wide music festivals, all-state orchestras, and honor orchestras. He has guest conducted the Youngstown Symphony Orchestra (YSO), and both the YSO and Warren Philharmonic in multiple Nutcracker Ballet productions. His guest conducting has included many performances of the Messiah in Chagrin Falls, OH. Additional guest conducting has been with the Richmond Chamber Orchestra, the All-State Orchestras of South Dakota, South Jersey, and West Virginia, as well as orchestras at International String Conferences held at Penn State University, Immaculata College, Bryn Mawr, and Lebanon Valley College. Of note was a special performance with members of the Cleveland Orchestra as soloist and conductor for the Cleveland Cello Society.

As a cellist, Gelfand has performed throughout the US, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and Asia. His main cello teachers have been Marion Feldman (Manhattan School of Music), Janos Starker, and Fritz Magg (Indiana University), and additional studies were with Ronald Leonard (Eastman), Theo Salzman (Pittsburgh Symphony), William Stokking (Cleveland Orchestra), Elsa Hilger (Philadelphia Orchestra), Harvey Shapiro (Juilliard), and Mihaly Virizlay (Baltimore Symphony). He has performed under the baton of many of the world’s leading maestros in concerts of the Cleveland Orchestra, Cleveland Pops, Cincinnati Symphony, Cincinnati Pops, Syracuse Symphony, Nice Philharmonic, Paris Chamber Orchestra, Sofia Sinfonette, and the San Jose Symphony. These conductors included Leonard Bernstein, Seiji Ozawa, Lorin Maazel, William Steinberg, Lovro von Matacic, Eugene Ormandy, Arthur Fiedler, Eric Kunzel, Gunther Schuller, Jesus Lobos Cobos, Michael Tilson Thomas, and others. He has been principal cellist of the Syracuse Symphony and the Cleveland Pops, and, since 1975, principal cellist of the Youngstown Symphony, Warren Philharmonic, and Opera Western Reserve.

He has performed at music festivals at Tanglewood, Blossom, Riverbend, Temple, Colorado Music Festival, Cincinnati May Festival, Jackson Hole, Spoleto Festival of Two Worlds in Charleston, SC and Spoleto, Italy, Nice Academie d’Ete in France, to name a few.

Mr. Gelfand has had memberships in many chamber music groups including the Cazenovia String Quartet, Syracuse Symphony String Quartet, Cleveland Orchestra Duo, Youngstown Symphony String Quartet, Amici Trio, New Amici Trio, and the Youngstown Chamber Players.

Gelfand has been awarded scholarships to Interlochen, Indiana University, the Charlotte G. Masaryk Society Award, Lincoln Center Student Award, Fellowship to Tanglewood, Fellowship to the Cleveland Institute of Music, Grant from the French Government to the Nice Academie d’Ete, Ohio Arts Council Grant, and the WYSU-FM Silver Jubilee Award for Excellence in the Fine Art of Keeping Classical Music Accessible and Alive with the Ashtabula Area Orchestra.