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Michael Pfitzer is an innovative and engaging conductor, educator, and community music maker. He is the Choral Director at Deerfield Academy, a position he has held since 2021. He previously worked for three years as the Director of Choral Studies at the University at Albany, State University of New York, and has taught and conducted choirs at Harvard University, Boston University, Framingham State University, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He has also led international performances in Cuba, Romania, and Brazil.
Michael’s choruses presented the New York State premiere of José María Vitier’s choral masterwork Misa Cubana in April 2019 in concert with the Unitas Ensemble, an orchestra committed to performing the music of the Latinx diaspora. His recent collaborators have included artists such as composer Robert Paterson, choral director and activist Dr. André de Quadros, Craig Hella Johnson and GRAMMY-winning ensemble Conspirare, award-winning conductor Lina Gonzalez-Granados, singer and scholar Dr. Kyra Gaunt, and popular musician MILCK.
Michael is an advocate for creating strong and diverse communities through music. His concerts feature music from a wide variety of places, cultures, and eras and engage with topics relevant to 21st century life. His choral groups have performed concerts themed on mental health, social justice, music against gun violence, and songs of resistance. He has presented on pedagogical techniques for restoring humanity through music in places where that humanity is systematically stripped away, and believes access to music should be a right, not a privilege afforded only to those with a specific cultural background or financial capacity to participate.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, his innovative projects to safely make music together were profiled in The New York Times, The Boston Globe, CBS News in Boston, and ABC News in Albany. He was the Director of Music for a robust program at the First Parish Church of Stow and Acton for ten years, and has conducted a number of community choirs in the metro Boston area. These include the Harvard Summer Chorus, the Harvard-Radcliffe Chorus, the Wakefield Choral Society, Voices of Metrowest, and the Cambridge Community Chorus, which he prepared for performances of Tosca with the Cambridge Symphony Orchestra and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the Boston Civic Symphony.
In addition to choral music, Michael has conducted dozens of musical theatre and opera productions, led clinics and orchestral festivals, and performed as an oratorio soloist with the Boston Modern Orchestra Project and Sounds of Stow. For six years he was the choral associate at Harvard University where he served as an advisor to student groups, assistant to the Director of Choral Activities, manager for projects in marketing, budgeting, and development, and chief staff administrator for the choral program. In both 2014 and 2015, he was awarded a Bok Center Certificate of Distinction in Teaching for “a special contribution to the teaching of undergraduates in Harvard College.”
Michael received a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Boston University, where he studied conducting with Dr. Miguel Ángel Felipe and Dr. Scott Jarrett. He earned a Master of Music degree in Choral Conducting from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he studied with Beverly Taylor, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music and History from Tufts University, where he studied with Dr. Andrew Clark. He has also studied in workshops and programs with Dr. William Weinert, Robert Page, and Dr. Ann Howard Jones.