Michael Holmes has been the Music Director of UUCSS since 2004. In this capacity, he has helped to develop a diversified and integrated music program at UUCSS and the Music Residency Program; he has also promoted enriching collaborations among musicians in the church and in the community. A recent example of this was his vision and planning for the “Missa Gaia” project, a musical celebration of our sacred earth, in collaboration with composer/songwriter Jim Scott who was a collaborator in the original Paul Winter Consort “Missa Gaia” production in 1982.
Michael is very active in the Unitarian Universalist Musicians Network, which promotes ties and exchanges among UU musicians in North America. Michael finds the Unitarian Universalist Church a welcome vehicle for him to experience the true joy of meaningful musical expression and to connect with the “real world” outside of his academic and performing career.
Michael has always been active in a wide spectrum of musical pursuits that have taken him around the world. He is a PhD candidate in Historical Musicology at the University of Maryland, College Park, made possible by means of a university-wide fellowship, and he obtained a BM in Music Theory/Composition and an MM in Orchestral Conducting from two American universities, with studies abroad at the British Institute in Florence, Italy. After spending much of his early career performing as a French hornist in several professional orchestras, his interests gradually shifted toward conducting and early music. Since then, he has performed extensively as a conductor in Europe, leading performances with orchestras in seven European countries.
His artistic focus in the USA deals primarily with early music and musicological pursuits. Currently, he serves as Music Director and Principal Conductor of the Orchestra of the 17 th Century and director of the Washington Cornett and Sackbutt Ensemble, one of this country’s premiere period instrument wind groups. Michael has demonstrated a special interest in Nordic music, and is a candid advocate of the Finnish composer Jean Sibelius. He was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship in 2001-02 to live in Helsinki, Finland in order to research Sibelius’s life and works.
As a singer, Michael has sung with the premiere Finnish male voice choir Ylioppilaskunnan Laulajat (YL), and in 2005, he sang with them on their American tour, which included a well-received performance at Lincoln Center in New York City. In December 2007, Michael traveled to China to sing with a small group of American singers to take part in the premiere of Ye Xiaogang’s “Song of Peace,” an oratorio written for the 70th anniversary of the Nanjing holocaust in 1937.