A fine cellist with a well-developed sense of musical characterization, Michael Kaufman plays with intensity, commitment and deep understanding," says Robert Levin, internationally renowned Mozart scholar and piano virtuoso. A recipient of numerous awards, the twenty-five-year-old cellist has won the Cleveland Cello Society, Empire State and Alexander and Buono competitions as well as the Voices of Music Bach Competition and most recently the USC Performance and Presentation Award. He has performed as soloist and chamber musician in the United States, Canada, England, Germany and Switzerland.
Concert highlights include Kaufman's performance of Tchaikovsky "Variations on a Rococo Theme" (original version) with the Eastman Philharmonia in the grand opening of the renovated Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre and his debut solo performance at Carnegie Hall's Weill Recital Hall. Last year, he performed the Gulda Concerto with the Eastman Wind Ensemble and Schoenberg Pierrot Lunaire on the hundredth anniversary of the premiere of the work. This year, he will play concerts in Carnegie's Zankel Hall as part of a workshop with John Adams and David Robertson.
Kaufman is a regular and avid chamber musician. He is a member of the Gara Trio with Elizabeth Beilman and Etienne Gara and the Ars Subtilior Trio with pianist Zuo Zhang and clarinetist Ran Kampel, and has collaborated in concert with artists such as Joseph Silverstein, Charles Castleman, Carol Rodland, Andrew Simionescu, Patinka Kopec and Carol Ou. In Burlington, Canada, his performance of Psalm for those who Died in the Famine of 1933 with soprano/composer Stephania Romaniuk was broadcast live on OMNI TV and the Ukrainian programs Kontakt and Svitohliad.
Kaufman has taken masterclasses from Steven Isserlis, Frans Helmerson, Pieter Wispelwey, MiklÌ_s PerÌ©nyi, Timothy Eddy, Joel Krosnick, Paul Katz, Laurence Lesser, Ronald Leonard and Desmond Hoebig. He has received chamber music coaching from Robert Levin, Pamela Frank, Daniel Hope, GÌÁbor TakÌÁcs-Nagy, Miriam Fried, Wu Han and members of the Tokyo, Emerson and Orion String Quartets. Michael has participated in music festivals such as Music@Menlo, Verbier, Kneisel Hall, Norfolk and Sarasota.
A passionate advocate for contemporary music, Kaufman has premiered works written for him by composers such as BMI Competition winner Justin Hoke, Jen Bellor and Matt Barber. He has also performed in the two contemporary music ensembles at the Eastman School of Music, Ossia and Musica Nova and is currently a member of the USC Contemporary Music Ensemble.
In an orchestral setting, Kaufman has performed as principal cellist of the Sarasota Music Festival Orchestra, the USC Symphony and the Eastman Philharmonia. He has also substituted with the San Diego Symphony.
Born in 1987 in New York City, Kaufman moved to Cleveland at the age of three. One year later, he began cello lessons with teacher Pamela Kelly, and continued with her for 10 years. By the age of seventeen, he was already participating in music festivals in Sarasota and Norfolk. In 2004, he was the only cellist to be accepted to the Young Artist Program of the Cleveland Institute of Music, where he studied with Alison Wells. He then received a Bachelor of Music Degree with distinction and a Performer's Certificate from the Eastman School of Music, studying with Steven Doane. Currently, Michael is pursuing his Master's Degree, studying modern cello with Ralph Kirshbaum and baroque cello with William Skeen at the University of Southern California.
Michael plays a rare Italian cello by Gaetanno Sgarabotto, dated circa 1920.