Hailed as a “real virtuoso” by the late Ruth Laredo, pianist and conductor Michael Shane Wittenburg has been a vocal coach and assistant conductor with the opera companies in both Orlando and Sarasota and has served as the Music Director and Conductor of the Youth Opera at Sarasota Opera. As an Assistant Professor of Music at Lee University where he served as Music Director of both the Chamber Orchestra and Opera Theatre, he led performances of Sousa’s El Capitan, Puccini’s Suor Angelica, Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado, Johann Strauss Jr.’s Die Fledermaus, Mozart’s The Magic Flute, and Virgil Thomson’s The Mother of Us All. He has made solo appearances as pianist with the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, The Chattanooga Symphony and Opera, the World Youth Symphony Orchestra, the Eastman Wind Ensemble, and, most recently, the Ocala (FL) Symphony, where he has been named Principal Guest Artist. He has been a violinist and Principal Keyboardist with the Brevard (FL) Symphony Orchestra, and has served as interim Conductor of the Chattanooga Symphony Youth Orchestra. In 2002 he joined the faculty of the Heifetz International Music Institute in Wolfeboro, NH as a collaborative pianist and sonata coach, and has appeared in collaborative recital with such artists as Metropolitan Opera soprano Stella Zambalis and concert violinist Livia Sohn.
A graduate of the Interlochen Arts Academy, Mr. Wittenburg’s training includes Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Piano Performance from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY, where he studied with Fernando Laires and Alan Feinberg, and held a Fellowship in opera coaching. In 2001 he finished a second Master’s degree in Orchestral Conducting from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. His teachers include Henry Charles Smith, David Effron, Dr. Steven Bird, and, most recently, Michael Jinbo at the renowned Pierre Monteux School for Conductors and Orchestral Musicians, where he was awarded the 2007 Osher Scholar prize. He was named a 2008 Mary Ragland Young Artist at Nashville Opera, where he directed 66 performances of the world premiere children’s opera, The Ugly Duckling. He received a Superior Performance in Piano award upon his graduation from Interlochen in 1992, was awarded the prestigious Performer’s Certificate upon receiving his Bachelor of Music degree from Eastman in 1996, and has been granted inclusion in multiple editions of Who’s Who.
"Michael is absolutely the best pianist I will ever have the honor of playing with. He always anticipates exactly what I'm about to play, before even I am aware of what's happening! Not only is Michael an amazing pianist, but he's also a passionate teacher. Whether he's telling me about the history of the piece and composer or he's demonstrating rhythms and dynamics, he is always there to help. On stage, I know that he has my back and I believe that that makes him an invaluable accompanist and teacher."
- Maia, 17
"I've known and played with Michael for 5 years, and even though he is the most attentive and talented accompanist I have ever come across, he is so much more than that. He is a fantastic musician, teacher, and friend who provides crucial constructive criticism and an essential outside perspective on my playing. My career and development as a musician would have been extraordinarily different, certainly for the worse, if I had not had the honor and good fortune to make music with Michael Wittenburg."