Marisa Michelson
Bring Naamah's Ark to Life: An Arts Discussion

November 08, 2018
The Great Hall

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Composer | Singer MARISA MICHELSON is a multi-award winning writer of interdisciplinary music-theatre, choral work, and musicals, and is the founder of Constellation Chor, an immersion in voice, movement and spirit. She is also a sought-after voice teacher who works with singers of all levels and genres from beginners to Broadway stars. Her music has been called “exquisite” (The New York Times) and “otherworldly” (Steven Suskin).

Marisa’s “sonic expressions, from ethereal sounds to primal screams, animalistic wails and simply breath” have been likened to “vocal innovators like Kate Bush, Bjork, Florence Welch and even Yoko Ono.” (StageBiz).

Naamah’s Ark, her oratorio written for five choirs/150+ singers which tells the story of “Noah’s Ark” from his wife’s point of view, will headline this summer’s 2018 River to River Festival and star Tony Award Winner Victoria Clark in the title role. Naamah’s Ark (libretto by Royce Vavrek) was originally commissioned by Ted Sperling for MasterVoices as part of their inaugural community outreach initiative providing an opportunity for a community to make music regardless of their abilities or backgrounds.

In 2014, Marisa collaborated with librettist Mark Campbell The Other Room (Barrow Group Theatre, Inner Voices) which starred Phoebe Strole as Lena, a woman reflecting on her profound love for her friend Steve during the AIDS crisis in NYC in the 1990s.

Marisa is currently developing a new musical with director/choreographer Chase Brock, and playwright Jillian Walker.

Awards: 2018 NEA grant recipient; 2017 Creative Engagement Award (Lower Manhattan Cultural Council); Winner of a Jonathan Larson Award; American Musical Voices: The Next Generation; St. Botolph Award for Composition; Grant to study Indian Hindustani singing in India. Residencies: MacDowell; Ucross; Blue Mountain Center; Theatreworks Palo Alto; New Dramatists; Montclair University; Millkin University. Recordings: Tamar of the River (Yellow Sound Label); Broadway Lullaby Project (“All New “ singer: Nikki M. James). Marisa sang with Meredith Monk in Songs of Ascension at BAM. As a voice teacher, she maintains a private studio in Washington Heights and has taught at The Performing Arts Project (TPAP), The American Theatre Wing, Millikin University, the University of the Puget Sound, the Signature Theatre, and Montclair University.

Marisa Michelson website



A.P.E.X. Events featured the performer and composer Marisa Michelson. “An Arts Discussion: Bringing Naamah’s Ark to Life,” was all about her creative process, how she wrote her oratorio, Naamah’s Ark, and how SUU’s Music Department is collaborating with Michelson to bring the oratorio Cedar City and Salt Lake City as a part the National Opera Associations yearly conference.

Marisa Michelson is a composer and performer who is currently set out of New York. She is a composer that mainly bases the majority of her work around the voice and choir instrumentations. At a young age she was put into piano lessons by her parents and took flight with this. She was composing and performing regularly soon after beginning lessons. Her career has taken her through writing a musical that was performed for her community at the age of 17, college training in singing, acting, some dance, she traveled to study Hindustani music for about 6 months, she has written and produced many large works for large organizations, and many other scenarios.

On the panel for discussion was Dr. Krystal McCoy (Music Director for Naamah’s Ark), Prof. Michael Cotty (Dance Director), Marisa Michelson (Composer), Dr. Lynn Vartan (A.P.E.X. and Percussion Director), Dean Shauna Mendini (Dean of the College of Performing and Visual Arts), and Prof. Carol Ann Modesitt (Opera Director).

This event featured one number from the hour-long oratorio; Rainbow. This piece is crafted with lyrics citing the colors of a rainbow. Michelson even rewrites the colors in over 15 different languages. This was performed by choir members and instrumentalists from the SUU Music Department and members from the SUU Dance Department.

At the beginning of Spring Semester of 2019 keep your eyes peeled for performance information for Naamah’s Ark in Cedar City. The oratorio is scheduled to perform on January 12th.


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