Michael Mermagen

Michael Mermagen
Professor of Music, Cello

Contact Info
204 Grant Hall


Cellist Michael Mermagen (M.M. The Juilliard School, B.M. The Peabody Conservatory of Music) is Professor of Cello at UMKC Conservatory, and Head of Strings. He was formerly Associate Professor of Cello and Chamber Music and Head of the Instrumental Division at the Benjamin T. Rome School of Music at The Catholic University of America.

Michael made his debut at age sixteen with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra after receiving the Young Soloist’s Award. Michael began his studies at Peabody Preparatory where he studied with Paula Skolnick-Childress and Mihaly Virizlay. Principal teachers in college were Stephen Kates at Peabody Conservatory, and Zara Nelsova at The Juilliard School. As the Juilliard School’s concerto competition winner, he performed with Juilliard Orchestra under Otto-Werner Mueller, in Alice Tully Hall. He was soloist with the National Orchestra of New York, where he held the prestigious Emanuel Feuermann principal cello chair and performed in Violoncello Society of New York master classes lead by Yo-Yo Ma, Janos Starker, and Bernard Greenhouse.

Michael toured regularly with The Aspen Ensemble, the American Chamber Players, 1997–2003, and with Arista Piano Trio (named Chamber Music America’s Artists to Watch) 1987–1995. During his tenure at The Catholic University of America, he joined violinist Jody Gatwood and pianist Marilyn Neeley in the Rome Trio. He collaborated with the San Francisco Ballet and was featured as the cello soloist for the New York premiere of two works by the renowned choreographer Mark Morris. Michael is currently performing around the country with the Aspen String Trio, formerly the ensemble in residence at the University of Baltimore.

As an artist-faculty member at the Aspen Music Festival and School, Michael has held the prestigious position of principal cellist of the Aspen Chamber Symphony for more than 25 seasons. He has performed chamber music in Aspen with artists Joshua Bell, Sarah Chang, Jeremy Denk, Vladimer Feltzman, Lynn Harrell, Robert McDuffie, Susanne Mentzer, Anton Nel, Nadja Salerno- Sonnenberg, Gil Shaham, The Takács Quartet, and the Weilerstein family. He has also collaborated with many distinguished conductors, including Comissiona, Conlon, Levine, Maazel, Marriner, McGegan, Robertson, Skrowaczewski, and Zinman.

Michael has toured and given recitals, concerto performances, master classes and chamber music performances around the world. He has participated in the Grand Canyon Music Festival, Prince Albert Music Festival in Kauai, and Bay Chamber Concerts in Rockport, Maine. He has been heard on WQXR’s Concerts Plus, WNYC’s Around New York, and regularly on NPR’s Performance Today. Michael performed live with Richard Westenberg’s ensemble Musica Sacra on A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor and performed as a substitute cellist in the New York Philharmonic, Buffalo Philharmonic, New York City Ballet, Orchestra of Saint Luke’s, 92nd Street Y Orchestra, Philharmonia Virtuosi of New York, American Symphony Orchestra, Brooklyn Philharmonic, and the Long Island Philharmonic.

Michael recorded and performed the Patrick Zimmerli Piano Trios for Arabesque label, after a celebrated debut of the same pieces at the Seattle Chamber Music Society. He made the premier recording and critical edition of composer and Holocaust victim James Simon’s “Arioso” for solo cello. He performed and recorded for the documentary film featured on PBS and Netflix, Defiant Requiem, a film about a most dramatic example of intellectual and artistic courage in the Theresienstadt (Terezín) concentration camp during World War II.

Upcoming commercial releases include the Music of Martinu for Naxos label with the Aspen String Trio. Recent appearances include the performance of Brahms Double Concerto with violinist Livia Sohn and Stockton Symphony, again with violinist David Perry and the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra and the Prince George’s Philharmonic, Beethoven Triple Concerto with Elisabeth Adkins and Edward Newman and the Maryland and Fairfax Symphonies, and Vivaldi Concertos with conductor Nicholas McGegan. He performs on a Nicolo Gagliano cello, Naples, 1774.