Possessing extraordinary stage charisma and ease of connection with audiences, an intuitive and instinctive understanding and passion for music, and having broad-scope experience directing ensembles of all genres and levels, Michael J. Garasi is one of the most engaging, and exciting professional conductors of our day.
Mr. Garasi is the Music Director and Principal Conductor of the professional, Florida Lakes Symphony Orchestra in Central Florida. Under maestro Garasi’s baton, the FLSO has become a significant profile in the Central Florida community. His creative contributions to the regular FLSO concert season include: side-by-side performances with local youth orchestras and college students in the area, the development of the FLSO Chamber Music Series and Meet the Musician Series, the formation of the annual Concerto/Aria Competition for Young Artists, and the programming of premiere works by local composers.
Previously, Mr. Garasi has held positions of Music Director/Conductor for the Treasure Coast Symphony, and the Broward Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Garasi has been guest conductor for the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra, and for six years, annually conducted the Epcot Candlelight Processional Orchestra and 200-voice choir at Walt Disney World.
A committed advocate for the performance of new music, Mr. Garasi was invited and conducted the premiere season of the professional New Score Chamber Orchestra in Orlando, Florida, performing the music of living composers of our day. Mr. Garasi was also a part of the 1st “Young Composers Challenge” annual event, sponsored by the Orlando Philharmonic. At the School of Performing Arts at the University of Central Florida, Mr. Garasi performed on piano in Steve Reich’s “Music for 18 Musicians”, was the Advisor for the formation of NewME (New Music Ensemble), which provided student composers and performers an opportunity to compose/perform contemporary art music, and implemented the UCF Annual Composition Competition.
Mr. Garasi has had the privilege of conducting such outstanding artists as Harpist Elizabeth Hainen; Trumpeter Philip Smith, Cuban guitarist Carlos Molina; mezzo-soprano Rachelle Fleming, (sister to world-renowned soprano, Rene Fleming), and bass baritone Michael Riley.
With a gift for understanding, motivating and conducting youth ensembles, Mr. Garasi has spent years investing in the lives of young musicians. As a full-time faculty member of the School of Performing Arts at the University of Central Florida for seven years, Mr. Garasi was on the instrumental conducting faculty conducting the symphony orchestra, wind ensemble, chamber orchestra for the musicals in collaboration with UCF Theatre, and taught numerous undergraduate and graduate courses, including Music Theory, Music Appreciation, and Conducting. Mr. Garasi has held positions as the Artistic Director/Conductor of the Brevard Symphony Youth Orchestra, the Conductor of the Florida Symphony Youth Orchestra’s Philharmonia, and has been actively involved in public and private school music education as guest conductor of All-County Honors orchestras and bands throughout the state of Florida.
Acclaimed as one of the most formidable and reputable conductors in the world of Brass Bands, Mr. Garasi is known for his dynamic presence and leadership, both in preparation and performance. Charismatic, trend-setting, progressive and creative, Mr. Garasi was the musical director of the Brass Band of Central Florida for nine years, leading them to win both major titles in US brass banding, two tours to England, recording four albums and leading the ensemble to a new level of national and international prominence. Mr. Garasi became the first American brass band conductor ever to be nominated by England’s 4 Bars Rest.com for the “Newcomer of the Year” Award in 2004 and the “Conductor of the Year” award in 2006. Mr. Garasi also won the “Best New Arrangement” Award in the U.S. Open Brass Band Championships in 2004 and 2005. In 2007, Mr. Garasi became the first American conductor to adjudicate at the most prestigious entertainment competition for brass bands in the world, the Brass in Concert Competition at the Sage in Gateshead, England. Because of this international success, Mr. Garasi was invited to England twice to conduct the world famous Grimethorpe Colliery Band on numerous concerts and at the Brass in Concert Competition in 2008. Still active in the world of Brass Bands, Mr. Garasi was recently invited to adjudicate at the North American Brass Band Championships in 2013, and is presently on the NABBA Board of Directors.
Mr. Garasi studied at the Eastman School of Music and holds a bachelor and master degrees from the Cleveland Institute of Music. In addition to his formal degrees, Mr. Garasi has studied advanced conducting with Kenneth Kiesler, Michael Jinbo, and Joseph Kreines.
Mr. Garasi is married to published music and curriculum writer and editor, Cherry T. Garasi. Michael and Cherry reside in Houston, Texas.