B i o g r a p h y
"YPHIL includes more than 100 musicians from 70 different countries... Conductor Michael Avagliano brought together these musicians, who met only two weeks ago, with deceptive ease."
Susan Hall, Berkshire Fine Arts
"Michael Avagliano... conducted with expert hands-on attention, at ease and drawing the best timing and precision from his players. He brought to bear his wide background as a maestro."
James Cotter, Times Herald-Record
American conductor Michael Avagliano is obsessed with redefining what’s possible for an orchestra. His focus on ambitious local collaborations and active community involvement helped triple the Central Jersey Symphony Orchestra’s (CJSO) budget and led to significant audience growth in both the Summit Symphony Orchestra and the August Symphony Orchestra, all of which he serves on as music director. Largely inspired to become a conductor after a chance meeting with Leonard Bernstein, Avagliano continues to draw inspiration from the legendary maestro’s twin legacies: exuberant musicianship and a devotion to broadening classical music audiences.
In meeting the former of the two, Avagliano has maintained focus on musical excellence: during his tenure, the CJSO has twice been named runner-up for the annual American Prize in Orchestral Performance. He is additionally sought after as a guest conductor, and has led over 15 orchestras across the United States and Europe, including the Bohuslav Martinu Philharmonic (Czech Republic), Pleven Philharmonic (Bulgaria), Scuola Popolare di Testaccio (Italy), Plainfield Symphony (NJ), and University of Oregon Symphony. In a March 2020 performance, Avagliano was praised for an “effective, powerful” performance (New York Classical Review) in leading the Bachanalia Chamber Orchestra at New York City’s Merkin Hall.
To meet Bernstein’s second challenge of audience building, Avagliano’s most visible achievement with the CJSO came in helming the 50-year organization’s first ever opera and ballet productions: Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute) and Lebedínoye ózero (Swan Lake) in 2014. Co-presented with Light Opera of New Jersey and FM Dance Company respectively, the relationship between the CJSO and Light Opera has endured—the two organizations produced Don Pasquale in 2016 and La Fille du Regiment in 2018.
Mr. Avagliano places a premium on integrating the orchestras he leads with underserved communities, leading orchestras in elder-care facilities, hospitals and other places outside the concert hall, With the CJSO, among his proudest accomplishments is performing alongside the young dancers of New Jersey’s Thomas Jefferson Arts Academy—a rare opportunity for dancers at that age. Leading the Summit Symphony Orchestra, Avagliano orchestrated a collaboration with Summit High School students, projecting their artwork on stage during a performance of Mussorgsky's “Pictures at an Exhibition”.
When not leading orchestras, Mr. Avagliano turns his attention to mentoring the next generation of young conductors, imparting skills needed both on the podium and off. To train musicianship, he founded the annual International Conducting Masterclass in Stony Point, NY. Conversely, his workshop "Conducting the Interview" focuses on career-building, teaching conductors significant skills in applying for positions as conductor and music director. One of the most comprehensive workshops of its kind, participants held mock interviews with a panel of industry professionals, led by Henry Fogel, former president of the League of American Orchestras. Hoping to build upon the success of these initiatives and construct further ones, Avagliano founded the Performers Learning Alliance in 2020, a pending 501(c)3 nonprofit.
A doctoral candidate for Orchestral Conducting at Rutgers University (D.M.A.), Mr. Avagliano has worked in masterclasses and workshops with Neil Varon, Kenneth Kiesler, Diane Wittry, and Kirk Trevor. He studied under Markand Thakar, and also served as associate faculty at Thakar’s workshops with the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra. A trained violinist and violist, Avagliano continues to perform and educate under his adjunct professorship of violin and viola at Drew University, and has performed with the internationally acclaimed Madison String Quartet since 2000.
Avagliano holds degrees from Indiana University (B.M.) and Rutgers University (M.M.). He resides in New Jersey with his wife, the violinist Evelyn Estava.
“The talented singers [were] supported by the glorious sound of the Central Jersey Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Michael Avagliano.”
New Jersey Examiner