Michael Ellison


Having worked out of the collision of cultures that is Istanbul for over ten years, Michael Ellison’s composition explores integration of disparate traditions and sonic experimentations in music into meaningful new forms.

He has been commissioned
- by Radio France for Vision of Black Elk (2015), for Ensemble Variances and contralto Noa Frenkel,
- by the BBC for ‘Turkish’ Concerto K. 219, for Turkish instruments, cello and orchestra (2008), BBC Symphony Orchestra with conductor Pascal Rophé, Gemma Rosefield, and Ali Tüfekçi,
- by the Istanbul Music Festival,
- by the European Research Council (2015) for the Oxford Christ Church Cathedral Choir,
- and numerous other festivals and ensembles.

About Ellison’s first opera Say I Am You-Mevlana (2012) – which premiered in 2012 to critical acclaim at the Istanbul Music Festival and Rotterdam Operadagen, with VocaalLAB Nederland and Hezarfen Ensemble conducted by Lucas Vis – Alexandra Ivanoff (Today’s Zaman, Istanbul) declared "the effect of Ellison’s remarkable instrumental textures and occasional choral moments bordered on the supernatural".

Further extending his groundbreaking work in integrating Turkish and Western idioms, two new chamber multimedia musical theatre works, on texts of Turkish/Kurdish novelist Yasar Kemal, with Simon Jones directing, Zeynep Tanbay (choreography and dance), and NohLAB (video) are scheduled for production on the Istanbul Music Festival in 2016 and 2019.

Other notable commissions have included String Quartet #3 (2014) for the Fry Street Quartet by the Nova Chamber Music Series and Arizona Friends of Chamber Music, Kubla Khan (2011) for the Istanbul Music Festival, New York Youth Symphony (1995), National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).

He received grants from Copland House (2006), the Beebe Foundation (New England Conservatory), the Ojai Festival, the Barlow Endowment, ASCAP, ARIT, and Fulbright Foundation.

Co-founder and co-Director of Istanbul’s award-winning Hezarfen Ensemble, Ellison is a Lecturer in Music at the University of Bristol.