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* Michael Schnack, BA


1070 Vienna, Westbahnstraße 26/15a
Musician, free-lance
Musik und Tanz


Zur Person

Iowa / USA
Patricia and Ronald
Registered partnership with Paul Hille
Music, reading, film, learning foreign languages


Michael Schnack


Zur Karriere

Zur Karriere von Michael Schnack
What were the most important stages in your career? I grew up in Iowa City, USA, which offered a wonderful school music program. I studied piano with Amy Mulford, trombone and French horn with Lee Witwer, voice and choral accompanying with Peter Eklund and Larry Monson. I also participated in many straight theater, musical theater and opera productions. From 1985 to 1989 I studied music and modern languages (French, German and Russian) at Yale University and graduated with a BA in music (summa cum laude, Senior Thesis Prize). Between 1986 and 1989 I also conducted the Yale Russian Chorus, producing two record albums and performing on numerous concert tours across the US, USSR and Western Europe. After graduation I was awarded a Rice Fellowship to study Russian choral music in Moscow with Aleksandr Semenjuk (Gnesin Institute) and Vladimir Minin (Moscow Chamber Choir). On the way to Moscow I visited my twin brother, who was studying at the time in Vienna, and fell in love with the city. I moved here in 1990, first teaching music at the American International School, then becoming established as a free-lance vocal coach. Jobs followed at Peter Weck’s Studio Theater an der Wien and Austrian National Television (ORF). Soon I was working regularly on theater productions in Vienna and elsewhere in Austria and Europe (Volksoper, Volkstheater, Vienna Chamber Opera, Établissement Ronacher, Metropol, Theater Akzent, Sommerfestspiele Amstetten, Open Air Festival Stockerau, St. Gallen, Prague). Tour productions gave me the opportunity to perform in the Deutsche Oper Berlin, Deutsches Theater Munich, Aegidi Theater Hannover, and many others. I studied singing in Vienna with Carol Blaickner-Mayo and Marie Landreth, and sing in various choirs (Arnold Schoenberg Chor, Vienna Chamber Choir, Wiener Singverein, Choir of St. Augustin). I have been artistic director of the Performing Arts Studios Vienna, a three-year professional training program for musical theater performers, since 1994. In addition to my administrative duties, I lead the choral and vocal ensemble program, teach song interpretation and musical theater repertoire, and arrange and compose many pieces for school performances. As a representative of the Vienna Chamber Opera, I am primary juror for the Hans Gabor Belvedere International Singing Competition in Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan, and also hold regular workshops for opera singers and musical theater performers in these countries. In February, 2006, I began conducting two choirs (Collegium Vocale Marchfeld and the Male Choral Society Stammersdorf). I have recently founded a concert cycle called Hear It Here, which will present concerts of vocal music (including operetta, musical theater, choral music, and solo concerts). My most recent work includes a production of Ain’t Misbehavin’ in the Vienna Chamber Opera; the premiere of my latest musical theater piece, 1070 Vienna; and choral performances of music by Irving Fine, Norman Dello Joio, and the Gospel Mass of Robert Ray.

Zum Erfolg

Zum Erfolg von Michael Schnack
What does success mean to you personally? Success for me means being able to do what I love for a living, instead of keeping music only as a hobby.Do you see yourself as successful? I am satisfied with what I have achieved, but at the same time I have many ideas and projects I would love to bring to life.What was important for your success? Organization, patience and staying power are very important for a free-lancer. There are always dry periods to get through.How do you manage challenges in everyday work? Luckily I am able to choose to accept or decline projects. I am not easily scared. If a project interests me, I tend to say, I’ll try it.When did you first see yourself as successful? I was always successful in particular fields (academic work, music, languages) and unsuccessful in others (cooking, baseball!).Is there anyone who significantly affected the course of your career? My early teachers (Amy Mulford, Larry Monson) were of course very formative. I have never had a real professional „mentor“, though I often wish I had. I have had to do quite a bit of learning by doing.What recognition have you received? It is the most wonderful feeling to have my music performed, and also to receive positive feedback about my own compositions, arrangements or performances, especially from colleagues I respect.What are the strengths of your company? The Performing Arts Studios Vienna have limited financial resources but we are very flexible and creative.How do you combine career and private life? I used to have trouble separating the two, but this is a very important step towards maturity. I have no problem being unreachable when I want to be.How much time do you invest in further development? I am constantly learning languages, doing historical research on possible opera subjects and the like. I’m always taking private lessons or courses in a variety of subjects (voice, popular piano styles, orchestration).What piece of advice would you give to the next generation? I would recommend young artists to work on as many different projects with as many different people as possible. Don’t worry about the pay at the beginning; you need to get experience. Stay friendly, clear and honest! People you treat rudely have a way of popping up later in life as potential employers and long-term work colleagues.What are your next goals? I have several composition commissions for the coming two years and I am also looking forward to opportunities to conduct new orchestral repertoire.Your motto? Don’t be afraid.


Compositions: Music for eight cabaret programs with Alfons Haider (1995-2003 in Vienna’s Theater Akzent and on tours throughout Austria); Time Out! (musical, premiered 2000 and extended 2001 in Stockerau); Broadway-Melodie 1492 (theater music to Jura Soyfer’s piece, 2002, Volkstheater, Vienna); FINIX (Musical, premiered 2003, Raimund Theater, Vienna; second production as EU Youth Project, 2004, with performances in Bolzano, Trentino, Ljubljana and Vienna); Alleluia (for soprano, choir, organ and orchestra, premiered 2004, St. Stephan’s Church, Tulln); Considerate lilia agri (for women’s choir and organ, premiered 2005, St. Stephan’s Church, Tulln); Young Hardy (for choir, piano and wind quintet, premiered 2006, Musikverein, Vienna); I shall go back again (for soprano and harp, premiered 2006, Wayne Presbyterian Church, Wayne, PA, USA); 1070 Vienna (musical, premiered 2006, Club Ost, Vienna).


Austrian Composers’ Association Prize, 2005; Virginia Harp Challenge, 2006.


Vienna Chamber Choir.


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