Michael R. Oldham (b. 1989 Braidwood, IL) is a composer and pianist who weaves artwork, story, and imagination into his work. Whether experimenting with looping videos on Instagram as the “parts” of a piece that anyone can play (Music In Segments – 2018), utilizing repeating gif images of old silent films as inspiration for a twelve-movement work (Music In Gifs – 2019), or translating great works of art into music (Suggestion Box: Art – 2020, The Egon Schiele Pieces – upcoming), Michael’s thirst for unusual storytelling through music is never quenched.
One of the many projects keeping Michael busy over quarantine is a weekly art song series entitled, Lugubrious Portraiture, or, Art Songs for Those on the Peripheries of Love. Michael virtually gathered eight of his friends in the Chicago opera scene and beyond to create this series, which has premieres on his Instagram (@WhoaItsMichaelO) and YouTube channel every Sunday through April 2021.
Continuing this trend, his work as composer-as-storyteller is ever-present in the albums, EPs, and singles he has self-released. Recent albums include In Select Theaters (2019), which is his first full-length album of piano solos based on imagery of cinema past, Three Vignettes (2017), which is a work with short stories for violin and piano, The Los Angeles Miseries (2016), which is a set of pieces for solo piano on perspectives attained while driving across America from Chicago to Los Angeles, Grand Delusions on a Small Scale (2015), which features early solo piano works, as well as Fantasies for Piano (2014), which is a six-movement dissection of some of his favorite songs by artists including Fiona Apple, Dirty Projectors, My Brightest Diamond, Andrew Bird, St. Vincent, and Sufjan Stevens. Follow Michael R. Oldham now on Bandcamp, Spotify, Apple Music, or wherever you stream music.
Michael earned his Bachelor’s degree in Film Scoring and Composition from Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts, and studied briefly at Philippos Nakas Conservatory in Athens, Greece. He also keeps quite busy as a collaborative pianist in and around Chicago, including work with Chicago Fringe Opera and Chicago’s illustrious improv institution, Second City.