Israeli-Mexican-American cellist Michal Shein is a performer, community organizer and master educator focused on curating cross-cultural performance projects and intensive educational initiatives. Michal is the Founder and Artistic Director of Cellisimo Virtual Festival, a 2-week Spanish-speaking festival for advanced Latin American cellists, which premiered in 2021. The program offers full scholarships for students to engage in masterclasses and lessons with world-class faculty, wellness sessions, and online community building throughout the year. In 2015, Michal began a partnership with the Harp Helu Foundation in Oaxaca, Mexico, to present concerts in Oaxaca city, as well as in remote villages, to provide access to classical music performances. Michal also founded the Taller de Cuerdas, a week-long string festival that served as a springboard for the foundation to expand its educational programming.
Alongside her freelance performance career in Boston, Michal is in high demand as a master educator and coach in programs such as Longy School of Music Side-By-Side program, New England Conservatory Preparatory School, Conservatory Lab Charter School El Sistema, Brookline Music School, and Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra, among others. In 2019, Michal joined the faculty of Boston String Academy, the award-winning El-Sistema-inspired strings program, where her cello students have gone on to win competition prizes, attend prestigious music festivals, and the Boston BEAM program, and participate in masterclass opportunities. Michal has also served as a Teaching Artist in public schools through her work with the Handel and Haydn Society and Discovery Ensemble. In these roles, Michal has done everything from teaching general music in a Spanish immersion school (using elements of Feierabend and Kodaly philosophies), to designing and presenting dozens of interactive music concerts for Boston children in neighborhoods with low access to music programs.
In addition to her educational work, Michal appears with many orchestras and ensembles in Boston including the Rhode Island Philharmonic, Portland Symphony, and Boston Philharmonic Orchestra, among others. As a baroque cellist, she has played with ensembles including Harvard Baroque Chamber Orchestra and Grande Harmonie, and the International Baroque Institute at Longy, among others. From 2008 – 2013, Michal was the Principal Cellist of the chamber orchestra Discovery Ensemble under the direction of Courtney Lewis. In 2009, she was voted online to be in the YouTube Symphony under Michael Tilson Thomas. She has appeared internationally with orchestras in venues including Carnegie Hall, Symphony Hall in Boston, Sala Netzahualcoyotl in Mexico City, and Teatro Colón in Cuba, among others.
Michal received her bachelor’s degree in music from the University of California at Berkeley, appeared as a soloist with the symphony orchestra, and received several awards from the music department. Graduating with honors, Michal received the Hertz Traveling Fellowship to continue her studies in Paris with Mark Drobinsky and Gary Hoffman. During her time in Europe, she was accepted to masterclasses at the “Accademia Chigiana di Siena” in Italy, where she worked with Antonio Meneses. She received her Master’s in Music from the New England Conservatory in Boston, studying with Natasha Brofsky.
Michal has participated in many festivals including “Oberlin in Casalmaggiore,” Carteret Cello Festival, Bowdoin Summer Music Festival, and others. She has worked with cellists and musicians such as Jean Michel Fonteneau, Bonnie Hampton, members of the Ying and Borromeo quartets, Steven Doane, Alexander Baillie, Anssi Kartunen, Anner Bylsma and Phoebe Carrai.
Michal lives in a multi-generational cohousing community in Jamaica Plain, Boston with her husband Jonas, and two young children, Noam and Hadas.
As a teacher, my passion lies in creating access to excellent teaching and learning. I believe that as teachers, we have an enormous responsibility to set up students for success. I define success as students feeling empowered in their own learning path. As a teacher, I accomplish this through highly organized and scaffolded teaching, balanced with a nurturing style and mentoring approach.
As much as I push students toward excellence, I greatly value mental health and well-being. Regardless of the setting that I am teaching in, it’s very important to me to take in “the full picture,” assessing where students are coming from, the culture they are being brought up in, and the obstacles they face on a daily basis.
In my career as a cellist and educator, I have prioritized teaching in as many different settings as possible. I believe that teaching in diverse contexts can expand our teaching and musical skills greatly, make our music careers more sustainable, and most importantly, increase our impact on the community.