Polish-American conductor and pianist Michael Pecak performs to great acclaim throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe. As a conductor, Michael collaborates with numerous American opera companies and festivals, including Chicago Opera Theater, Florida Grand Opera, Opera Saratoga, Opera Festival of Chicago, Winter Opera St. Louis, and Miami Music Festival among others. Based in his hometown of Chicago, Michael is on the music staff at the Northwestern University Opera Theater. As Music Director of the Chicago Citywide Symphony Orchestra, Michael leads major symphonic works by Beethoven, Dvorak, Brahms, Mozart, Tchaikovsky, and others. He has also collaborated with the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra and the Cameristi del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino in Italy.
During the 2020-2021 season, Michael worked with Chicago Opera Theater on their virtual pandemic productions of “Rimsky Rebooted”, the midwest premiere of Kamala Sankaram’s Taking Up Serpents, as well as a chamber performance of Catán’s La hija de Rappaccini in the Chicago Field Museum. Looking ahead, the 2021-2022 season has Michael working with the Opera Festival of Chicago in their inaugural season’s performances of Wolf-Ferrari’s Il Segreto di Susanna and Puccini’s Il Tabarro. Also, Michael rejoins COT for performances of Bizet’s Carmen, Errollyn Wallen’s Quamino’s Map, as well as Wang Lu’s The Beekeeper, which will mark Michael’s company conducting debut.
An ardent lover of opera and art-song, Michael regularly works with singers as an accompanist and coach. Michael frequently collaborates with soprano Hannah De Priest. This fall, they will participate as one of ten invited duos in the Oxford Lieder Mastercourse. The duo was also named Rising Young Artists by Pegasus Early Music for their 2021⁄22 season. A heritage speaker of Polish, Michael is an advocate for Polish art-song and opera. From November 2020 to January 2021, under the aegis of the Collaborative Arts Institute of Chicago, Michael curated and led an intensive workshop devoted to Polish diction and performance traditions in art songs from the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries.
Michael earned his Bachelor of Music degree from Northwestern University where he studied piano performance with Alan Chow and orchestra/opera conducting with Victor Yampolsky, Stephen Alltop, Mallory Thompson, and Julian Dawson. A Fulbright Fellowship enabled Michael to spend a year at the F. Chopin University of Music in Warsaw, Poland, where he explored the music of 20th and 21st-century Polish composers. Building on this experience, Michael was subsequently named an Artist-in-Residence at the Polish Studies Center of Indiana University (Bloomington) where he also earned his Masters Degree in piano performance, studying with the renowned American pianist André Watts.
As a historical fortepianist, Michael has performed in the Vancouver Early Music Festival, the Westfield Center for Historical Keyboard Studies, the Festival de Musique Montreal Baroque, the Washington University Chamber Music Series, the Opus 327 Recital Series, the Les Délices: SalonEra series, and Ars Musica Chicago.
When he’s not performing or studying his scores, Michael is most likely tuning his fortepiano, going for long walks in his neighborhood parks, or eating dark chocolate.