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Michael Zapruder is a composer, performing songwriter and interdisciplinary artist whose works freely use, mix, cross and explore contemporary composition and songwriting.  


In 2019, Zapruder was in residence at San Francisco’s Z-Space, as composer and sound designer for Maureen Whiting Dance Company’s Burden of Joy. Also in 2019, Zapruder, along with director Hannah Wolf and playwright Megan Tabaque, was artist-in-residence at Tofte Lake Center in Ely, Minnesota, where they continued development of a campfire song-cycle theatrical work entitled The Changelings, which mixes immersive theater, folk and popular songwriting, choral music, and drama. In Spring 2019, Zapruder’s second chamber opera, a monodrama entitled In Light was premiered at the 2019 Cohen New Works Festival in Austin, Texas. In 2018, Zapruder was composer and sound designer for Texas Performing Arts’ award-winning production of Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice. As a creater of physical interactive sound-objects, Zapruder’s Pink Thunder in Portmanteaus were shown in art exhibits in San Francisco (Curiosity Shoppe) Chicago (Rational Park), and Washington, DC (AWP). 


Zapruder’s first opera premiered in 2017. His work Polysong was commissioned in 2018 by Austin’s Tetractys and was premiered at Austin’s Museum of Human Achievement in September of that year. His 2016 work entitled Understory, written for guitar trio and live elecronics, was presented by Texas Performing Arts in their Sound in Sculpture series in association with the Fusebox Festival. His 2015 piece How You Found It was performed in Fairbanks, Alaska as part of the Composing in the Wilderness concert of that year. Zapruder’s awards for composition include the Glenn Glasow Fellowship, awarded annually to the outstanding graduate composer at California State University, and a Seattle Composers’ Alliance Composition Competition award for his 2015 string quartet piece entitled Tritone Arch. 


As a performing and recording songwriter, Zapruder has made more than a dozen albums, including five solo albums and 52 Songs, a 1999 project in which he wrote, recorded and posted online one song each week for a year. He has performed across the United States as well as in Canada and Europe, and has been invited to perform at South by Southwest and Pop Montreal festivals. Zapruder’s records have been acclaimed by critics, with Pitchfork, the Los Angeles Times, the Village Voice, Tiny Mixtapes, and many others lauding Zapruder’s ambition, uniqueness and songcraft. His 2012 project Pink Thunder, for which he made twenty-two songs from poems by living American poets, was hailed by the Huffington Post as “a work of extraordinary merit and historical significance,” and was selected as the Boston Globe’s 2012 Best Poetry Project of 2012. His 2008 record Dragon Chinese Cocktail Horoscope won an Independent Music Award for Best Singer-Songwriter Album and its song Second Sunday in Ordinary Time was nominated for Best Folk Song.


As a visiting artist and an expert in songs and songwriting, Zapruder has given artist talks and participated in panels internationally, including at NYU’s Writers’ Program in Paris, France, at the New School in New York City, NY, at the University of Wyoming, and others. 


Zapruder spent many years living and working in Oakland, California and has deep roots in the Bay Area. He now lives and works in Austin, Texas. 

Press quotes:

"...“Latecomers” is a singer-songwriter album at its core, but a remarkably creative and sophisticated one, both musically and lyrically." Austin American-Statesman

"Zapruder is a protean composer of sparkling chamber music, innovative operas, and folk-rock songs with a literary attention to detail." Anearful

“…a work of extraordinary merit and historical significance….” Huffington Post

“… reminiscent of everything from Kurt Weill to Elliott Smith…. ” Los Angeles Times

“If Beck’s “The New Pollution” and Joni Mitchell’s “Free Man in Paris” conceived a child, it might sound something like this…” Pitchfork

“…a remarkable effort from a very talented songwriter.” Popmatters

“Masterful.” –AMPLIFIER Magazine

“…there’s just no way to overstate how good this record is… crushingly lovely ….Go get it.” – Performing Songwriter Magazine

“… quiet and haunting…”-Washington Post

“…moody and lovely…” – The Onion




2022 Serious Light (Howells Transmitter)

2020 Latecomers (Howells Transmitter)

2012 Pink Thunder (Black Ocean Books / Kora Records / Howells Transmitter)

2009 Dragon Chinese Cocktail Horoscope (SideCho Records)

2007 Isn’t it Romantic (compilation - Verse Press) 

2006 New Ways of Letting Go (Howells Transmitter) 

2002 This is a Beautiful Town (Ex/Or Records)

1999 52Songs (52Songs)



2019 DMA in Composition - The University of Texas at Austin 

2014 MA in Composition - California State University East Bay

1996 Undergraduate Music Courses - Laney College

1991 BA Religious Studies (magna cum laude) - Hamilton College

1990 College Year in Nepal - University of Wisconsin Madison




Frank La Rocca

Rafael Hernandez

Yevgeniy Sharlat

Donald Grantham

Russell Pinkston

Nina C. Young




In Extremis (2018) - Piano Trio

Free Enterprise for Orchestra (2017) 

Hooptie (2017) - fl., cl., electric guitar, d.b., pno.

Polysong (2017)- fl., cl., bsn., 3 altos, baritone, steel-string guitar, pitch pipes

Golden (2017) Duration: 45 mins.Opera for Pierrot Ensemble + Percussion + Electronics

Element of Blank (2016) 4-channel fixed media

Understory (2016) Guitar trio with electronics

Circle of Light (in progress) SATB chorus, pitch pipes

Right Brain / Left Brain (2015) Interactive Max/MSP patch, Wiimote, TouchOSC

Ten Preludes for Solo Piano

Tritone Arch for String Quartet (2014) 

How You Found It (2014) tpt., hn., tbn., pno.

Fits (2014) - picc., fl., cl., b. cl., vln., vla., vlc., pno.

Cupcake Music (2013) Pure Data patch + Reactivision. Four toy cupcakes and computer.

Peaceful Tricks (2013) cl., vln., vlc., pno.




2019 Cohen New Works Festival

2017 Tetractys - Polysong

2017 Cohen New Works Festival - Golden

2016 Texas Performing Arts - Understory

2016 Texas Performing Arts - Element of Blank

2014 Composing in the Wilderness / Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival - How You Found It

2014 Seattle Composers’ Alliance - Tritone Arch

2013 Glenn Glasow Fellowship Commission - Fits

2012 Redshift Ensemble / CSUEB - Peaceful Tricks




2018 Merchant of Venice - Composition and Sound Design

2017 Burden of Joy (in progress) - Maureen Whiting Dance Company




2017 Robert Jeffry Womack Endowed Presidential Scholarship, University of Texas at Austin

2016 Robert Jeffry Womack Endowed Presidential Scholarship, University of Texas at Austin

2015 Kent Kennan Graduate Fellowship in Music Composition, University of Texas at Austin

2014 Winner, Seattle Composers’ Alliance International Call for Scores

2013 Glenn Glasow Graduate Fellowship in Composition

2013 Small Press Distribution 100 Best Poetry Projects of the 2010s (for musical project Pink Thunder)

2012 Boston Globe Best Poetry Project of 2012 (for musical project Pink Thunder) 

2009 Independent Music Award, Best Songwriter Album (for Dragon Chinese Cocktail Horoscope)




2014 Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival

2014 San Francisco Writers’ Conference (Musical performance)

2013 TEDx Beacon Street (Musical performance)

2013 Litquake, San Francisco (Musical performance)

2102 Mission Creek Festival (Musical performance)

2012 AWP Festival. Boston (Musical performance)

2012 Sacramento Poetry Center Spring Conference (Musical performance)

2008 Pop Montreal (Musical performance)

2007 South by Southwest (Musical performance)




2017 University of Texas at Austin - Graduate Teaching Assistant

2014 California State University East Bay - Aural Skills Graduate Teaching Assistant, Sight Singing I, II, III




2022-present Nue.Life Health - Musicologist

2022-present American Compassion Podcast - Composer/Co-producer

2020-2021 See You Now Podcast - Composer

2021-present Tetractys New Music - Co-Director

2017-2019 CLUTCH (UT Composers’ Concert Series) - Coordinator

2004-2013 Pandora Media - Head of Curation

2005-present Howells Transmitter Label - Co-founder and partner

2003 Pandora Media - Music Analyst



2015 University of Santa Barbara – Composition Forum visiting composer 

2014 San Francisco Writers’ Conference (Craft talk, Panel)

2014 San Jose State University Poetry and Song Workshop

2013 New York University MFA in Creative Writing Summer Program in Paris (Craft talk, Performance)

2013 New York University MFA in Creative Writing Lillian Vernon Creative Writers House, NYC (Craft talk, Performance)

2013 New York University Gallatin School of Interdisciplinary Studies – Celestial Twins (Panel)

2012 Sacramento Poetry Center Spring Conference (Craft talk)

2012 University of Wyoming, Laramie (Craft talk, Performance)

2010 University of California Riverside (Craft talk)

2008 University of Kentucky Louisville (Craft talk, Performance)




2020 Austin American-Statesman Review of Latecomers

2014 Origins Magazine - Profile and group interview with siblings Matthew and Alexandra Zapruder (authors)

2013 Los Angeles Times - Review, David L. Ulin, A Busload of Poets: Michael Zapruder’s Pink Thunder Interview

2013 Boston Review - Dan Chelotti, Thrilled with the Gifts of Humans

2012 Boston Globe - Michael Andor Brodeur, Best Poetry Projects of 2012

2012 Huffington Post - Seth Abramson, December 2012 Contemporary Poetry Reviews 

2012 San Francisco Bay Guardian - Cover Story – Hi-fidelity Weather

2012 Zyzzyva - Interview

2011 Poetry Society of America - Scott Pinkmountain, Poems Could be Pop

2009 Pitchfork - Review, Dragon Chinese Cocktail Horoscope

2009 Popmatters - Review, Dragon Chinese Cocktail Horoscope

2009 Nightline - Interview

2008 Rolling Stone Magazine - Quoted

2009 SF Weekly - Review, New Ways of Letting Go

2006 - Review, New Ways of Letting Go

2006 The Onion - Review, New Ways of Letting Go

2006 Amplifier Magazine - Review, New Ways of Letting Go

2006 Magnet Magazine - Review, New Ways of Letting Go

2006 Los Angeles Times - Review, New Ways of Letting Go

2003 Oregonian - Review, This is a Beautiful Town

2003 Washington Post - Review, This is a Beautiful Town 

2003 Village Voice - Blurb




2017 June 25 – Peaceful Tricks, Density512 Festival

2017 April 11,13 – World Premier, Golden (Opera for Pierrot Ensemble + Percussion + Electronics) Cohen New Works Festival

2016 May 8,9 –World Premiere, Element of Blank, (4-channel media with live dance) Texas Performing Arts Ears Eyes and Feet Concert

2016 April 7 – World Premiere, Understory, Texas Performing Arts Sound in Sculpture Concert

2015 November 4 – Bates Recital Hall, How You Found It

2014 October 21 – World Premiere, Tritone Arch for String Quartet, Chapel Performance Space, Good Shepherd Center, Seattle, WA

2014 July 22 – World Premiere, How You Found It, Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival, Davis Concert Hall, Fairbanks, AK

2013 November 13 - TEDx Beacon Street (Pink Thunder)

2013 July 14 – Barge, The Seine, Paris, France (Pink Thunder)

2013 May 22 - World Premiere, Fits, Glenn Glasow Fellowship Concert, California State University East Bay, Hayward, CA

2013 March 8 – Church of Boston (Pink Thunder)

2012 December 9 – World Premiere, Cupcake Music, California State University Multimedia Lab, Hayward, CA

2012 May 22 – World Premiere, Peaceful Tricks, Glenn Glasow Fellowship Concert, California State University East Bay, Hayward, CA

2010 May 17 – Verdi Club, San Francisco, CA

2009 March 13 – Swedish American Hall, San Francisco, CA

2008 November 9 – Sunset Tavern, Seattle, WA

2008 October 2 – Ballatou, Pop Montreal Festival, Montreal, CA

2008 February 21 – Tishman Auditorium, The New School, New York, NY

2007 March 17 – Mohawk, South by Southwest Showcase, Austin, TX

2007 January 25 – Kennedy Center Millennium Stage

2006 Mercury Lounge, New York, NY

2003 Living Room, New York, NY

2000 May 14 – The Great American Music Hall, San Francisco, CA

1998 July 31 – The Fillmore Auditorium, San Francisco, CA

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