Composer Michael Colina (born 1956) is a multiple GRAMMY® winning composer and producer based in New York City. Though born and raised in the American South, Colina has deep musical roots in his father's homeland of Cuba. "My musical core is more that of a folk musician than an academician, it just so happens that I have a very large musical vocabulary." With a true passion for music, his vibrant mix of life experiences has given him a unique musical voice in contemporary Classical music. Much of his youth was spent traveling between the U.S. and Cuba. While simultaneously being exposed to Latin music and the soul and gospel sounds of the American South, he also discovered a great love of Classical music. "My early years were blanketed in the heat of racial unrest and my personal struggle against old family hatreds and prejudice. It was an unprecedented mix of sensory input, cultural fracturalization, intellectual and artistic counter-currents." Colina studied composition at the North Carolina School of Arts with Vittorio Giannini, Louis Mennini (brother of composer Peter Mennin) and Robert Ward. He continued studies at the Chigiana in Sienna, Italy with Thomas Pasatieri and Roman Vlad, and was the first recipient of the Vittorio Giannini Memorial Scholarship award.
In his music, Colina embraces classical, jazz and Latin elements, often in an engaging and distinctive mash up that displays his love for the sheer diversity of his musical influences and resulting in a refreshing and honest musical language. "Blending in classical music is no longer forbidden. Performers as well as listeners are excited and challenged by the creativity and spontaneity that's occurring now in music.
Mr. Colina has written music for television, film, theatre, dance and live performances on concert stages throughout the United States, South America, and Asia. As a jazz musician, composer, producer and engineer, he has won three Gold Records, an Ace Award for Best Film Score for the 1985 film Finnegan Begin Again, and three GRAMMY® awards in the field of Contemporary Jazz. He has worked alongside a wide range of artists including James Taylor, David Sanborn, George Benson, Michael Brecker, Linda Ronstadt, Bonnie Raitt, Bob James and Herbie Hancock.
In 1999, Colina and his late father made a pilgrimage to Cuba, where he had not visited since his early childhood. This experience was eye-opening and inspiring. "Since reawakening my Cuban roots…a deeper appreciation and integration of my Cuban heritage takes hold in my life, new elements continue to pour into my writing and find their expression in my very personal blend of music… There's already a friendly tension in play between classical and jazz music; with the addition of Latin influences, comes brightness and a joyous abandon that takes the music further in a new direction. That new direction is what you'll hear in my music."
Colina's recent Classical works include Nesting Dolls for the Kremlin Chamber Orchestra; Baion de Bayo commissioned by the Quintet of the Americas; The Idoru, a piano trio by the New Arts Trio; Shadow of Urbano, premiered by the Quartet San Francisco and the world-renown jazz pianist Bob James; Los Caprichos, Commissioned by the Orchestra National of Brazil; Goyescan a Guitar Conceto premiered by the Imperial Orchestra of Lakeland Florida. Mambosa, a Cuban Dance for Orchestra was premiered in June 2010 by the Buffalo Symphony Orchestra, JoAnn Falletta conducting. Los Caprichos was given its US premiere in May 2010 by Fabio Mechetti and the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra, and has also been performed in Seoul, South Korea.
In 2011, Colina recently released CD of his Violin Concerto, Three Cabinets of Wonder, his Guitar Concerto, Goyescana, and the orchestral set Los Caprichos on the Fleur de Son Label. The recording features the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Ira Levin, and soloists Michael Andriaccio on guitar and Anistasia Khitruk on Violin.
For Colina, music and composition is about more than performances, premieres and awards. "To me, composing is like breathing- I cannot live without it. I write the music I want to hear, the music I love, the music of solace and the music of depravity."