ARTRA presents Michael Berkowitz, conductor extraordinaire
Michael Berkowitz brings his professional experience and personal charisma to concert stages in what reviewers call "a model of high quality conducting technique." They've also written that "Berkowitz provided the sparkle of the evening with his witty banter and self-assured conducting".
Johnny Green, the great composer-conductor, called Michael Berkowitz a "Drummer Conductor Extraordinaire". He has performed as a drummer for Henry Mancini, Liza Minnelli, Michael Crawford, Billy Joel, Sting, Elton John, and Bette Midler; conducted for Marvin Hamlisch, Roberta Flack, Maureen McGovern, Michael Feinstein, and Sarah Brightman: lead numerous Orchestras including the Boston Pops, The London Symphony, The Cincinnati Pops, The Pittsburgh Symphony, The North Carolina Symphony, The Atlanta Symphony, The National Symphony; and is featured on recordings with Steve Lawrence, Placido Domingo, Linda Eder and countless Original Cast Albums, Movies, Jingles and Television Performances.
Michael Berkowitz began performing as a drummer at the age of 11 in his hometown of Indianapolis, Indiana. After studying music at Indiana University, he began touring with Johnny Mathis, Andy Williams, and Henry Mancini. Mancini persuaded him to move to Los Angeles, where he became one of the city's busiest studio musicians, working with stars such as Gloria Estefan, Linda Ronstadt, Ringo Starr, Helen Reddy, Seals and Crofts, and The Association.
Michael has performed on many television programs including The Academy Awards, The Tonight Show, The Tony Awards, The Today Show, A Capitol Fourth, Great Performances, Live From Lincoln Center and Concerts at the White House.
His close work with two of Hollywood's greatest talents, Johnny Green and Nelson Riddle, led Michael to consider conducting. Johnny Green, composer of "Body and Soul" and conductor of the world-famous MGM Studio Orchestra, was a great inspiration, and passed along much of his experience and knowledge to Michael. Nelson Riddle firmly pointed Michael toward conducting. During their close 15-year friendship and working relationship, the two collaborated on television projects, feature films, recordings, and live shows. Through Riddle, Michael learned the fine points of the music business. When Riddle was too ill to conduct for Dame Kiri TeKanawa on his last recording project, it was Michael that Riddle asked to step in and conduct.
After moving to New York in 1980, Michael was immediately in demand on Broadway, working shows such as Evita, Pacific Overtures, The Tap Dance Kid, Do Re Mi and Jerome Robbins' Broadway. On record he has been heard from New York's Carnegie Hall on such projects as "A Sondheim Tribute", "My Favorite Broadway", "Anyone Can Whistle" and "An Evening With Betty Buckley".
He was the drummer for the once in a lifetime performance of Stephen Sondheim's "Follies" with the New York Philharmonic. Jerome Robbins asked Michael to come to the New York City Ballet to play for Robbins' "West Side Story Suite", which has been performed before sold- out houses in New York and all over Japan.
Well known in Europe, Michael is a recognized artist in the United Kingdom and has been a part of three Command Performances at London's famed Palladium Theatre.
As a leader of his own big band, Michael plays all over the country in Tributes to Gene Krupa, Harry James, Buddy Rich, Nelson Riddle, Artie Shaw and Billy May. His band played at the world-famous Birdland for three sold-out nights in June.
Michael's current projects include a new Jerry Herman Musical, "Miss Spectacular", a "Tribute To Sinatra" with the Cincinnati Pops for Telarc, a benefit performance of "West Side Story" for Katie Couric's Foundation (starring Robert DeNiro, Kevin Kline, Bette Midler, Chita Rivera, Rita Moreno, Josh Groban, Beyonce Knowles, the cast of "The Sopranos", and Rudy Giuliani), and a special concert version of Jerry Herman's "Mack and Mabel".
He continues to work with "Broadway on Broadway", a free concert in New York's Times Square featuring numbers from each season's Broadway Musicals, now in its 11th year and continuing to draw over 50,000 people. During the holiday season, Michael will be at Madison Square Garden for his 10th year in the pit for "A Christmas Carol".
See Michael's Facebook page