Music Director, Conductor, Composer, Producer & Arranger
Michael Kosarin has had a celebrated career for nearly 40 years, as conductor, music director, music producer, arranger, composer, and pianist both at home in New York City, and on nearly every other continent in the world. He is an Emmy Award winner, with two additional nominations, and is a three-time Grammy-nominated artist. He has been best known for the last 25 years as music director for legendary composer Alan Menken but has maintained an active profile in many media on his own and is much in demand for concert and recording work throughout the industry.
He has worked on over three dozen different films and television productions, on music of every conceivable genre, and is equally comfortable in styles ranging from jazz to pop to classical. His conducting, arranging, and producing work in his Disney films range from such animated classics as Pocahontas, Hercules, and Tangled, up to the live-action films Enchanted, Captain America, the 2017 Beauty and the Beast, 2019 Aladdin, and the upcoming 2021 The Little Mermaid. His film conducting work also extends to a plethora of non-Disney scores such as The Manchurian Candidate, Infamous, Marvin’s Room, and Old School. On the television side, he produced, arranged, and conducted both seasons of the musical ABC-TV show Galavant, which featured more than 60 songs, each in its own style. He also conducted, arranged, music produced, and wrote adapted score for several made-for-TV musical films, including A Christmas Carol with Kelsey Grammer (Emmy Award, Outstanding Music Direction), The Music Man with Kristin Chenoweth and Matthew Broderick (Emmy nomination, Outstanding Music Direction), and Once Upon a Mattress with Tracey Ullman and Carol Burnett. As composer, he has written episodes of Nickelodeon’s Wonder Pets, and songs for such other children’s shows as Sesame Street, Johnny and the Sprites, and the BBC’s Third and Bird.
His presence in the concert world is just as keenly felt. As an artist who has been conducting films for the past 25 years, he’s a natural on the podium conducting live-to-picture events and has done so at many venues throughout the world. He conducted several concerts at the Hollywood Bowl over the last years, beginning with Disney in Concert: Beauty and the Beast, with full symphony orchestra and celebrity guests providing live vocals. In 2019 and in 2016, he conducted similar concerts at the Bowl, live to picture for Disney’s The Little Mermaid. After having produced and conducted the songs for the 2017 film Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, he was asked to write an overture for it, and was invited to conduct a combination of the New York Philharmonic and Metropolitan Opera Orchestra specially put together for the New York premiere of the film. (That overture is now performed every time the film score is performed live.) He has arranged for and performed with the Boston Pops several times, has arranged for the New York Pops, and has guest conducted the Golden State Pops, with a piece originally commissioned by and performed with the Krakow Film Festival. His long-time association with such legendary artists as Barbara Cook led him to conducting pops concerts with her and Marilyn Horne, as well as performing on piano with the London Symphony Orchestra. He has also arranged for and performed extensively with Jane Krakowski, as well as with stars such as Kristin Chenoweth, and, many years ago, Eddie Fisher. His classical conducting includes having led an expanded version of St. Luke’s Orchestra in a concert that featured Stravinsky’s The Firebird live to picture (“Fantasia 2000”) at Lincoln Center, as well as serving as Victor Borge’s conductor for a concert culminating in a performance of the Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2 at Carnegie Hall.
He has produced, conducted, arranged, and played piano on scores and scores of audio recordings, perhaps most memorably with recording star Carly Simon, with whom he has collaborated often, including on the gold record “My Romance”, later made into an HBO special. (The television production featured Kosarin conducting a symphonic orchestra from the piano, and their recording of “Wee Small Hours of the Morning” was used in the film Sleepless in Seattle.) Other projects with Ms. Simon included performing piano on her album Film Noir and arranging a duet for her with John Travolta on same. He also arranged, produced, played on, and conducted albums based on his concert appearances with Barbara Cook, Jane Krakowski, and Kerry Butler, and has produced and conducted countless theatrical albums and film and television recordings (for which he earned three Grammy nominations).
Mr. Kosarin’s musical studies began when he started taking piano lessons starting at age 5, and as a child prodigy, he competed in several national competitions. Upon graduation from Duke University in 1982 (where he studied piano with jazz legend Mary Lou Williams), he was immediately offered a spot playing piano for the Broadway show Nine. Since that time, he has long established a reputation as one of the most sought-after music directors, continuing work as conductor/music director of the original productions of such shows as Grand Hotel, Secret Garden, Beauty and the Beast, King David, Mayor, A Chorus Line, Triumph of Love, Little Shop of Horrors, The Little Mermaid, Leap of Faith, Sister Act, Newsies, Hercules, and (currently) Aladdin, in addition to the international productions of The Hunchback of Notre Dame. He currently makes his home in New York City with his wife and teenage son.