"A fine cellist with a well-developed sense of musical characterization, Michael Kaufman plays with intensity, commitment and deep understanding," says Robert Levin, internationally renowned Mozart scholar and piano virtuoso. Although only 23 years of age, cellist Michael Kaufman has already performed as soloist and chamber musician in the United States, Canada, England, Germany and Switzerland. He has won the Cleveland Cello Society Competition, the Alexander and Buono International String Competition, the Empire State Competition and most recently, the TCU CelloFest Concerto Competition. Notable concerts have included Michael's debut solo performance in Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall and his performance of Tchaikovsky's "Variations on a Rococo Theme" (original version) with the Eastman Philharmonia in the grand opening of the renovated Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre.
Michael is a regular and avid chamber musician. He was a member of the Ars Subtilior Trio with pianist Zuo Zhang and clarinetist Ran Kampel, and has collaborated in concert with artists such as Joseph Silverstein, Charles Castleman, Carol Rodland, Andrew Simionescu, Patinka Kopec and Carol Ou. In Burlington, Canada, his performance of Psalm for those who Died in the Famine of 1933 with soprano/composer Stephania Romaniuk was broadcast live on OMNI TV and the Ukrainian programs Kontakt and Svitohliad.
Michael has taken masterclasses from Steven Isserlis, Frans Helmerson, Pieter Wispelwey, Miklós Perényi, Timothy Eddy, Joel Krosnick, Paul Katz, Laurence Lesser, Ronald Leonard and Desmond Hoebig. He has received chamber music coaching from Robert Levin, Pamela Frank, Daniel Hope, Gábor Takács-Nagy, Miriam Fried, Wu Han and members of the Tokyo, Emerson and Orion String Quartets. Michael has participated in music festivals such as Music@Menlo, Verbier, Kneisel Hall, Norfolk and Sarasota.
A passionate advocate for contemporary music, Michael has premiered works written for him by composers such as BMI Competition winner Justin Hoke, Jen Bellor and Matt Barber. He has also performed in the two contemporary music ensembles at the Eastman School of Music, Ossia and Musica Nova.
In an orchestral setting, Michael has performed as principal cellist of the Sarasota Music Festival Orchestra, the Eastman Philharmonia and the Eastman School Symphony Orchestra. He has also been a semifinalist for the New World Symphony.
Born in 1987 in New York City, Michael moved to Cleveland at the age of three. One year later, he began cello lessons with teacher Pamela Kelly, and continued with her for 10 years. By the age of seventeen, he was already participating in music festivals in Sarasota and Norfolk. In 2004, he was the only cellist to be accepted to the Young Artist Program of the Cleveland Institute of Music, where he studied with Alison Wells. He then received a Bachelor of Music Degree with distinction and Performer's Certificate from the Eastman School of Music, studying with Steven Doane. Currently, Michael is pursuing his Master's Degree with Ralph Kirshbaum at the University of Southern California.
Michael plays a rare Italian cello by Gaetanno Sgarabotto, dated circa 1920.