Polish-American conductor and pianist Michael Pecak performs to great acclaim throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe. As a conductor, Michael collaborates with numerous American opera companies and festivals, including Chicago Opera Theater, Florida Grand Opera, Opera Saratoga, Opera Festival of Chicago, Winter Opera St. Louis, and Miami Music Festival among others. Based in his hometown of Chicago, Michael is on the music staff at the Northwestern University Opera Theater. As Music Director of the Chicago Citywide Symphony Orchestra, Michael leads major symphonic works by Beethoven, Dvorak, Brahms, Mozart, Tchaikovsky, and others. He has also collaborated with the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra, the Roosevelt University CCPA Symphony Orchestra, and the Cameristi del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino in Italy.
For three seasons Michael has been the Assistant/Cover Conductor at Chicago Opera Theater, working alongside music director Lidiya Yankovskaya. Michael has worked on their virtual pandemic productions of “Rimsky Rebooted”, the midwest premiere of Kamala Sankaram’s Taking Up Serpents, a chamber performance of Catán’s La hija de Rappaccini, Carmen with Jamie Barton and Stephanie Blythe, and the world-premiere of Quamino’s Map by Errollyn Wallen. Last season, Michael made his principal conducting debut with the company in the world-premiere performance of The Beekeeper by composer Wang Lu and librettist Kelley Rourke. Last November, Michael worked on the Chicago-premiere of Szymanowski’s King Roger and, currently, he is in rehearsals as the principal conductor of Puccini's Suor Angelica and Jonathan Dove's Tobias and the Angel with the CCPA Graduate Opera Program at Roosevelt University.
An ardent lover of opera and art-song, Michael regularly works with singers as an accompanist and coach. Michael frequently collaborates with soprano Hannah De Priest. The duo has performed together in recitals throughout the U.S. and have participated in prestigious programs including the Cleveland Art Song Festival and Oxford Lieder at Oxford University. A heritage speaker of Polish, Michael is an advocate for Polish art-song and opera. From November 2020 to January 2021, under the aegis of the Collaborative Arts Institute of Chicago, Michael curated and led an intensive workshop devoted to Polish diction and performance traditions in art songs from the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries.
Michael earned his Bachelor of Music degree from Northwestern University where he studied piano performance with Alan Chow and orchestra/opera conducting with Victor Yampolsky, Stephen Alltop, Mallory Thompson, and Julian Dawson. A Fulbright Fellowship enabled Michael to spend a year at the F. Chopin University of Music in Warsaw, Poland, where he explored the music of 20th and 21st-century Polish composers. Building on this experience, Michael was subsequently named an Artist-in-Residence at the Polish Studies Center of Indiana University (Bloomington) where he also earned his Masters Degree in piano performance, studying with the renowned American pianist André Watts.
As a historical fortepianist, Michael has performed in the Vancouver Early Music Festival, the Westfield Center for Historical Keyboard Studies, the Festival de Musique Montréal Baroque, the Washington University Chamber Music Series, the Opus 327 Recital Series, the Les Délices: SalonEra series, and Ars Musica Chicago.