Michael Unterman enjoys a busy performing career on both modern and baroque cello. On baroque he currently serves as
principal cellist of Boston Baroque and performs with The Handel & Haydn Society, the Boston Early Music Festival Orchestra, Trinity Wall Street, and New York Baroque Inc. Special performances have included appearances in recital at the Vancouver Bach Festival, and as principal cello with Les Arts Florissants, Pacific Baroque Orchestra, and at the Britten-Pears Institute in England. He was also a member, from 2014-2017, of the Portland Baroque Orchestra, twice appearing as concerto soloist. In 2014 Michael earned a Master’s degree in Historical Performance from The Juilliard School, where he studied with Phoebe Carrai, and performed with Juilliard415 under the direction of artists such as William Christie, Richard Egarr, Monica Huggett, Robert Mealy, Jordi Savall, and Masaaki Suzuki.
On modern cello, Michael’s primary work has been with the Boston-based chamber orchestra A Far Cry which he joined in 2010. With the ensemble, he has toured the United States, Canada, and Austria, collaborated with artists such as Yo-Yo Ma, Anthony Marwood, and Leon Fleisher, and recorded three albums, playing solo cello on the orchestra’s recordings of Schoenberg’s Verklaerte Nacht and Christopher Tignor’s “Thunder Lay Down in the Heart." He has been praised in reviews for his “particularly lovely solo playing” and “nuanced, sensitive, and wholly gorgeous collaborations” (Boston Musical Intelligencer).
One of Michael’s passions in music has been to chip away at convention, to push towards a more finely curated, relevant, and engaging concert experience. A Far Cry has been an ideal forum for this through its policy of allowing members to design concert programs. Programs of Michael’s have included one that interspersed works by Hindemith, Corelli, Rossini and Grieg within a set of Jean Francaix preludes; another, called “Divisions,” that increasingly fractured the orchestra as it progressed, through works by Paert, Vaughan Williams, Steve Reich and Beethoven; and “VS.” which explored competition and conflict in music, through works by Zorn, Rameau, Biber, Takemitsu and others. His programs have been praised in reviews as “just the kind of imaginative artistic agenda that more groups should be prodded to try” (Boston Globe) and “the way good programming should proceed” (ArtsFuse), and the program “Subtraction” (featuring music by Cage, Schnittke and Haydn) was named in the Boston Classical Review’s Top Ten Performances of 2012.
Michael has performed at the Tanglewood, Kneisel Hall, Banff, and Birdfoot music festivals, and played under the batons of Simon Rattle, James Levine, Bernard Haitink and Rafael Fruhbeck de Burgos. Recent special performances have included a performance of the Mendelssohn Octet with the Aeolus Quartet on a “What Makes it Great?” concert with Robert Kapilow in Merkin Hall (NYC), and a concert produced at ICA Boston entitled “The Long Count,” curated by artist Matthew Ritchie and featuring indie/crossover artists Aaron and Bryce Dessner, Kelley Deal, Shara Nova, and Evan Ziporyn.
Michael is an alum of the New England Conservatory (B.Mus. ’08, M.Mus. ’11) where he studied with Laurence Lesser and Natasha Brofsky, and coached chamber music with Roger Tapping, Lucy Chapman, Paul Katz, and members of the Borromeo String Quartet. In 2008-09, he studied in Barcelona, Spain on a Fulbright Scholarship, working with Lluis Claret and the Quartetto Casals.
A native of Vancouver, BC, Canada, Michael began his cello studies with Judy Fraser at the Vancouver Academy of Music, also received important instruction from cellist John Kadz, Heilwig von Koenigslow, his longtime quartet coach, and Kathy Bjorseth, his mother, pianist, and longtime musical collaborator.