Artist Spotlight: Michael Samis, Cellist and Coordinator, ALIAS Education and Community Outreach

During the past five years, cellist Michael Samis has helped introduce many students and new listeners to the joy of chamber music as ALIAS Education and Community Outreach Coordinator. The Cincinnati native planned and organized the educational outreach and performance programs the ensemble presented at Hume-Fogg High School, the University School of Nashville, Dismas House and through the PENCIL Foundation Gold Star before-and-after-school program. He believes in the importance of developing audiences for chamber music, and for listeners to know music for the sake of the music.

Michael joined the Nashville Symphony in 1999 after graduating from the Cleveland Institute of Music, where he studied with longtime Cleveland Orchestra principal cellist Stephen Geber. It was a pretty natural progression for Michael to become a founding member of ALIAS five years ago, because “playing more and more things I love is important to me.”

Michael adds: “I like to live with the music I play – studying it, connecting with it, performing it.” He relishes the music of Beethoven, Brahms and Bach, but also enjoys the challenge of finding interesting compositions that are less frequently played. Highlights for him in the latter category are Olivier Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time (performed on the second ALIAS concert), Anton Arensky’s String Quartet in A Minor, Op. 35 (on the February 11 concert) and a new work he is learning, Eleven Caprices for Two Cellos (2003) by Philippe Hersant, a contemporary French composer.

Each year since coming to Nashville, Michael has prepared and presented chamber music programs with local assisting artists. His next recital in that series is set for May 7 at Congregation Micah. In addition, he performs with 12 other colleagues in the Gateway Chamber Ensemble, which is associated with Austin Peay University in Clarksville. Off stage, Michael enjoys yoga, cycling, hiking and travel.