Michael Barrett is co-founder and associate artistic director of the critically acclaimed New York Festival of Song (NYFOS). He is also the CEO of Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts, and General Director of the Caramoor International Music Festival. In 1992 Mr. Barrett and his wife Leslie Tomkins founded The Moab Music Festival in Utah, for which he serves as music director.
He has distinguished himself as a conductor with major orchestras here and abroad in the symphonic, operatic, and dance repertoire. From 1994–1997 he was the director of the Tisch Center for the Arts at the 92nd Street Y in New York. A protégé of Leonard Bernstein, he began his long association with the renowned conductor and composer as a student in 1982. He served as Maestro Bernstein’s assistant conductor from 1985–1990. He currently serves as music advisor to the Leonard Bernstein Estate.
A champion of new music, Mr. Barrett has conducted and played premieres by Bernstein, Blitzstein, Bolcom, Danielpour, Kernis, Sellars, Harrison, Takemitsu, Del Tredici, John Corigliano, Lowell Liebermann, and John Musto. He has collaborated with the directors Jerome Robbins, John Houseman, Sir Peter Hall, David Alden, Christopher Alden, and Gregory Mosher.
Mr. Barrett has recorded for Koch, TER, CRI, and Deutsche Grammophon. He has released two compact discs with the Brooklyn Philharmonic; one as soloist playing Blitzstein’s Piano Concerto with Lukas Foss conducting, the other as conductor of works of Wilder and Corigliano with oboist Humbert Lucarelli. The DG recording of The Joys of Bernstein features Mr. Barrett playing solo piano with Maestro Bernstein conducting. Other discs include recordings of Kerner Lieder; Mignon Lieder, duets by Robert Schumann (with Lorraine Hunt and Kurt Ollmann); Casino Paradise by William Bolcom; Aaron Kernis: 100 Greatest Dance Hits; and Ned Rorem’s Evidence of Things Not Seen.
Dedicated to music education, Mr. Barrett oversees the innovative education programs of the Moab Music Festival. He is also active in the creation of new educational programs for symphony orchestras in collaboration with Jamie Bernstein. Their programs have been performed throughout the U.S., Asia, Cuba and Europe.
As a performer, he has worked with many leading arts organizations throughout the world. Recent engagements have included the Portland (Oregon) Opera, The Utah Symphony, and the Indiana University School of Music, where he returns annually.
Born in Guam and raised in California, Mr. Barrett attended the University of California at Berkeley and is a graduate of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where he studied piano with Paul Hersh. He earned master’s degrees in conducting and piano performance.