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Michel Singher, Conductor
photo by Susan Hillyard

Michel Singher was born in Paris in 1940. His family, fleeing the Nazi occupation, eventually settled in New York, where Michel’s father, Martial, was a leading baritone at the Metropolitan Opera, and his grandfather, Fritz Busch, a frequent conductor. Michel had sporadic piano lessons as a child, eventually progressing to the point where he became his father’s recital accompanist while in high school; but teen summers spent with his family at the Aspen and the Marlboro music festivals provided standards for comparison such that Michel was not encouraged to pursue music professionally. He therefore graduated from Harvard College with an A.B., magna cum laude, in History and Literature. By then, however, he had decided to give music his best shot after all, and with the help of Fulbright and Woodrow Wilson scholarships caught up some on his missing conservatory training, first at the Stuttgart Hochschule für Musik and then at Indiana University, where he earned a Masters in Instrumental Conducting, “High Honors.”

Michel’s entry into full-time professional life was at the Hamburg State Opera, where he was a rehearsal pianist/assistant conductor for four years. He was to remain in Europe 12 years in all. During that time he was fortunate to extend symphonic experience acquired in several summers as assistant to Maurice Abravanel at the Music Academy of the West (in Santa Barbara) with guest appearances on the concert podiums of the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, Hamburg Symphony, Nuremberg Symphony, Siegerland Orchestra and Basel Symphony. But his main activities were in the pit, and after “graduating” from the Hamburg State Opera, he was First Conductor in the opera houses of Regensburg and Freiburg in Germany, Holland’s touring Opera Forum, and Antwerp’s Royal Flemish Opera, conducting several hundred performances of a large and varied repertoire.

Maestro Singher repatriated in his late 30s, first to join the faculty of the University of Washington, then at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music; in both positions he was, in addition to teaching conducting, Music Director of the symphony orchestra, the chamber orchestra, and opera. Highlights of his Oberlin years included the inception and organization of an all-encompassing Alban Berg Festival (1985), in collaboration with Oberlin College and the Oberlin Museum; a concert of the Oberlin Orchestra at Lincoln Center for the Beethoven Society, and the broadcasting of several of his concerts on NPR’s “Performance Today.”

Between those two academic positions, Singher was Music Director of the Mid-Columbia Symphony, in eastern Washington state. In his Northwest years, Michel repeatedly conducted both the Seattle Symphony Orchestra and the Spokane Symphony.

The maestro has conducted for the main opera companies of Anchorage, Boise, Buffalo, Denver, Grand Rapids, Juneau, Tallahassee, Tucson/Phoenix, and at the Music Academy of the West. He has conducted several productions for West Bay Opera.

Michel and his abstract painter wife, Elizabeth Kaminski, moved to Felton in 2005. They are owned by Murphy, the spaniel.