Known for his “rich tone and lyrical acumen” (Chicago Tribune), violist Michael Isaac Strauss has performed around the world as a soloist, in chamber music and symphonic settings. He made his solo debut with the Minnesota Orchestra in 1990 and has since appeared as soloist with the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, Orchestra 2001, Charleston Symphony, and Camerata Chicago, among others. During his eighteen-year tenure as the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra Principal Violist, Strauss performed as soloist or collaborator in duo roles nearly every season.
As a member of the distinguished Fine Arts Quartet, Strauss performed at the Schleswig-Holstein, Bayreuth and Montpellier festivals in Europe. In North America he has performed at summer festivals including LaJolla, Caramoor, Banff, Sewanee, Crested Butte, Long Lake, Indiana University Summer Evenings of Music and Eastern Music Festival. Strauss appears on annual chamber music series throughout the United States, making regular appearances on Cincinnati’s Linton Music series, St. Petersburg (FL) Encore Series, University of Indianapolis’s Faculty Artist Series, and on his own Music@Shaarey Tefilla series.
Strauss’s recordings can be found on the labels of I Virtuosi (debut of Jennifer Higdon’s Viola Sonata), CRI (David Finko’s Viola Concerto and 20th century chamber music works with the Philadelphia-based Orchestra 2001), Lyrinx (Mozart’s complete viola quintets with the Fine Arts Quartet), and Centaur (Stamitz’s works for solo viola with orchestra). He is also the featured recording artist on the Suzuki® Viola School Volume 8.
In addition to teaching graduate level students at the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University, Strauss teaches privately, presents master classes, and coaches advanced students and professionals in orchestral audition preparation. He previously has held faculty positions at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, DePauw University, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Butler University, University of the Arts in Philadelphia, and Swarthmore College. Strauss has served on many local and national not-for-profit boards and recently completed a term as President of the Board of Directors of the Indianapolis Suzuki Academy.
Strauss’s work has been honored with the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts Cinnamon Award, First Prize of the WAMSO Competition of the Minnesota Orchestra, Ealing prize at the Tertis International Viola Competition, Artist Fellowship Awards from South Carolina and Indiana, and a Creative Renewal Fellowship Award from the Arts Council of Indianapolis.
A native of Iowa, Strauss began his viola studies in Iowa City’s public schools. He continued under the tutelage of William Preucil, Sr. John Graham and Karen Tuttle. He received additional training at Mannes College of Music and the Banff Centre for the Arts. Strauss is a graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music and performs on a viola made by Matteo Albani from Bolzano, Italy, in 1704.