Michael Gatonska —

Brief Biography & Recordings

SONYC (String Orchestra of New York City)  FIRST TAKES


Gatonska’s Transformation of the Hummingbird is a 14-minute piece that unfolds as an extremely varied and imaginative series of brief episodes that embrace a wide range of musical vocabularies...the more I listened to it, the more convinced I became.

—Walter Simmons, FANFARE: ArchivMusic.com




Recordings & DVD’s

Kathleen Supove (Pianist/Performer) ROULETTE TV


In these interviews with experimental musicians, Kathleen Supove performs A Shaking of the Pumpkin at Roulette in New York City.


Michael Gatonska's A Shaking of the Pumpkin pares down the interaction to a single bass drum inserted under the lid of the instrument. A series of vignettes from "the mystic society of plants and animals" evokes the seething complexity of the insect world, the obsessiveness of woodpeckers, the inexorable projection of plants toward the light. These are evoked by flurries of intricately fashioned pianistic filigree, sub-basso explosions and quasi-aleatoric controlled improvisation. Perhaps most endearing is the lyrical superstructure created for the "song of the butterfly", an oasis of almost romantic placidity in the midst of an extravaganza of neo-modernist gesture. —John Halle









To purchase this DVD: RouletteTV

Photo by : A. Primavera

Civitella Ranieri, Italy


Background music is a fragment of On Connecticut Naturalism, composed in 2003 and performed by the e-cellist Jeff Krieger.


American Composers Orchestra Emerging Composers Series, Vol. 1


Most soothing is Michael Gatonska’s After the Wings of Migratory Birds, which in Brad Lubman’s hands unfolds with a postmillennial pastorality that couldn’t be better timed for the gradually warmer weather.

-Olivia Giovetti, Q2 Music WQXR Classical Album of the Week for March 17, 2012

To purchase a recording of After the Wings of Migratory Birds: Instant Encore

To purchase a recording of Transformation of the Hummingbird: Albany Records

Kathleen Supove’s piano is evidently a force of nature, and Michael Gatonska’s A Shaking of the Pumpkin was a compositional force of nature. Mr. Gatonska, a student of Penderecki, is singular not only a composer, but, like Harry Partch, makes the inventions to go with the music.


In this case, his work, like some of Janácek, was illustrating our friends from the field and the stream. The composer told me that the animals are actually listed in the score, but Ms. Supove’s fingers were too giddy for me to separate badger, woodchuck, bird, butterfly, worm, mosquito, and beaver. This was very intriguing music by a man who is not bound by the piano itself.

– Harry Rolnick, Concertonet.com

The music of Michael Gatonska has been performed by the Minnesota Orchestra, the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra, the American Composers Orchestra, the Pacific Symphony, the Hartford Symphony, the Krakow Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, the Ossia Symphony Orchestra, SONYC, the Chicago Chamber Musicians, the Talea Ensemble, LOCRIAN chamber players, string quartet DAFO (Poland), and the HSO Violoncello Quartet among others. His music has been performed around the world including at the Krakow International Composers Festival, the Teagu Festival of Contemporary Music (South Korea), the Festival Internacional de Musica Contemporanea (Bogota, Colombia), the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, the Tribeca New Music Festival, the MATA Festival, Piano Spheres—Exploring Music of Our Time, the CSN New Music Festival, the Kosciuszko Foundation Chamber Music Series, REAL Art Ways, and at the New Britain Museum of American Art.

He has received numerous awards for his compositions, including the 2012 American Prize for his orchestral composition The Whispering Wind, and fellowship and grant awards from the Civitella Ranieri Center, the Kosciuszko Foundation, the Puffin Foundation, the Chicago Symphony First Hearing Award, three ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Awards, the American Music Center, Meet the Composer, the American Composers Forum, the Roberts Foundation, the Underwood/ACO Commission, a MATA Festival Commission, the Connecticut Commission on Art, the Field, the Mary Cary Flagler Charitable Trust, and he is a MacDowell Colony Fellow.  In 2009, he was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award in the Field of Arts by the Connecticut Education Foundation.

Conductors Osmo Vanska, Marin Alsop, Carl St. Clair, Brad Lubman, Paul Lustig Dunkel, Michael Lewanski, Orlando Alonso and other new music champions have conducted his works. He has composed solo and chamber music for the pianist Kathleen Supove, the electric-cellist Jeffrey Krieger, the violinist Mari Kimura, the Ossia Chamber Players, the HSO Violoncello Quartet, and for the flautist Paul Lustig Dunkel. His music has been recorded on the Albany Records, Major Who Media, and Einstein Records labels.

Recently, his work has evolved to include capturing soundscapes in an effort to present audiences with a deep listening experience and to advance the development of a personal artistic vision which combines the two things in life that he is very passionate about – music composition and nature’s acoustics. In August of 2012, his soundscapes were broadcast on the “Gardens in the Air” Festival on Datscha Radio, Berlin, Germany.

He studied composition with Krzystof Penderecki, Marek Stachowski, and Zbigniew Bujarski at the Academy of Music in Krakow, Poland, and with Elias Tanenbaum at the Manhattan School of Music. He has also been a professor on the Faculty of Music at the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Bogota, Colombia.