Michael Knowles

Michael Knowles, a native of Richmond, Virginia, is a Music Performance major at Columbus State University in Columbus, Georgia where he studies cello with Professor Wendy Warner.

Prior to attending CSU, Michael was a teacher and freelance cellist who frequently performed with many of the orchestras, churches, and theater companies in Virginia. Former orchestral positions include: Principal Cellist and Librarian of the Richmond Philharmonic, Assistant Principal Cellist of the Northern Neck Orchestra, and Section Cello of the Petersburg Symphony. Michael has also performed numerous times in the pits of theatre productions by: Virginia Rep, VCU Theatre, Richmond Shakespeare, Cadence Theatre, Theatre Lab, Firehouse Theatre, HAT Theatre, and Auburn University.

In addition to performing on cello, Michael is an avid arranger for cello ensembles and conductor. Michael founded The Richmond Cello Orchestra (RCO) in 2015, a community cello ensemble dedicated to connecting the cello community of Richmond and expanding the repertoire available for cello ensemble. Averaging around 20 members, from High School students to Professionals, RCO would perform five concerts a season, each starting with an all Mozart program for Classical Revolution RVA's Annual Mozart Festival. Currently RCO has over 100 cello arrangements in its library with many of them arranged by Michael himself.

In 2008, Michael met the Composer Walter Braxton which started a collaborative friendship lasting until Braxton's death in 2020. During those years, Michael and Braxton worked together on many projects including his Ballad for Cello, The Cavalcade, Lamentations and most importantly Braxton's opera: To Damascus. In 2017 Michael was asked to be the Music Director and to conduct the premier of To Damascus at The Firehouse Theatre. Working with Walter, Michael helped reduce the instrumentation from full symphony orchestra down to a 17 piece theatre orchestra. To Damascus went on to win a Richmond Artsie Award for "Best Original Work".

During his time in Columbus, Michael has continued to perform and arrange music. He performs regularly with ensembles at CSU and currently holds positions with the Albany, Lagrange, and Columbus Symphony Orchestras. During the pandemic, Michael was asked to arrange De Falla's El Amor Brujo for an ensemble of strings and percussion. It was then premiered by the CSU Philharmonic in March of 2021. Also that year, Michael arranged an entire concert of pieces for solo cello and cello ensemble for the CSU cello studio.

Currently, Michael is enjoying his time studying cello at CSU and making cello ensemble arrangements in his spare time.