Celebrating his recent certification as Cantor from Hebrew Union College- Jewish Institute of Religion, Neil Michaels will be recognized for his 13 years of service at Temple Israel this summer where he proudly sits in the Stephen Gottlieb z”l Cantorial Chair.
Cantor Michaels was born and raised in Toronto, Canada, and comes from an illustrious family of musicians and cantors including Louis Danto and Edward Fogel of blessed memory. From an early age, Neil exhibited a unique talent and love for theatre and music. He was profoundly affected by the experience he had at Interlochen National Music Camp in Traverse City, where he spent four summers.
He was accepted to the prestigious Juilliard School with a scholarship to the voice program where he went on to complete his Bachelor of Music degree. Neil continued his graduate studies in Philadelphia at The Curtis Institute of Music. During that time, he was distinguished with top prizes in The Canadian Opera Company, and the George London Foundation competitions.
Neil’s first love has always been the theatre and he has performed leading roles in opera and musical theatre in the country’s most recognizable houses including, the Metropolitan Opera, the Opera Company of Philadelphia, and the Santa Fe Opera.
Abroad, Neil was invited to Manila to sing the title role in Mozart's Don Giovanni at The Cultural Centre of the Philippines for the center's gala re-opening. Other favorite roles have been Marcello in La Bohème, Phantom, Billy Bigelow in Carousel, the Hajj in Kismet, and Harold Hill in The Music Man. More recently, Neil performed the role of Escamillo (the Torreador) in Arbor Opera Theatre’s production of Carmen to critical acclaim.
In addition to overseeing its flourishing B’nai Mitzvah program, Neil has produced many concerts that have brought standing-room only crowds to the congregation. Most notably, The Music in Me, a one-man show which traces his journey from the theatre world to the cantorate. More recently, Neil produced Sing Your Praise, a concert rhapsody detailing his 13 year road to his calling through the myriad expressions of praise.
Neil also co-produced and recorded Kavanat Haruach, Temple Israel’s first CD of worship music for Friday nights the music of which has been featured on the URJ’s CD’s and its publications.
His debut solo recording entitled, Eden Once Again, is available to the public through Temple Israel or can be downloaded on iTunes.
The true star in Neil’s life is his loving wife Stephanie. Possessing a soprano voice of unique beauty, this Michigan native met her Canuck counterpart at Juilliard and have been making music ever since. Their adorable children Elliana and Shane bring inspiration to their music every day.