From: Phoenix, Arizona. LA Opera: composer of Homies and Popz (2000, debut); composer/conductor of Get Out with Live Orchestra (2022). Upcoming: composer of Omar (2022, mainstage debut).
Michael Abels is a two-time Emmy-nominated composer of music for film, media and the concert hall, often incorporating elements of folk, classical and bluegrass music.
He is known for his genre-defying scores for the Jordan Peele films Get Out and Us, for which Abels won a World Soundtrack Award, the Jerry Goldsmith Award, a Critics Choice nomination, and multiple critics awards. The hip-hop influenced score for Us was short-listed for the Oscar, and was even named "Score of the Decade" by The Wrap. Other recent media projects include the films Bad Education, Nightbooks, Fake Famous, and the docu-series Allen v. Farrow. Current releases include Beauty which premiered at the Tribeca Festival and is now streaming on Netflix, and Breaking (formerly 892) which premiered at Sundance and opens in theaters August 29, 2022. Abels' third collaboration with Jordan Peele, Nope, opens in theaters July 22, 2022.
Abels' creative output also includes many concert works, including At War With Ourselves for the Kronos Quartet, Isolation Variation for Hilary Hahn, and the opera Omar co-composed with Grammy-winning singer/songwriter Rhiannon Giddens, which opens at Los Angeles Opera in October 2022. His scores have been performed by the New York Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony, the Los Angeles Master Chorale and many others. Some of these pieces are available on the Cedille label, including Delights & Dances and Winged Creatures. Current commissions include a work for the National Symphony, and a guitar concerto for Grammy-nominated artist Mak Grgic.
Abels is co-founder of the Composers Diversity Collective, an advocacy group to increase visibility of composers of color in film, gaming and streaming media.
His compositions include the one-act opera Homies and Popz, with a libretto by Bernardo Solano, commissioned by LA Opera and premiered in 2000.
Born in Phoenix, Arizona, Michael Abels attended the University of Southern California where he studied with James Hopkins and Robert Linn. Later on in his collegiate career, he studied West African music with Alfred Ladzekpo at the California Institute for the Arts. He currently serves as Director of Music for New Roads School in Santa Monica.