Michael Norsworthy

Headshot Michael Norsworthy

General Info


Director of Classical Contemporary Music Chair of Woodwinds

Personal Website


I believe that my students need flexibility and versatility, above all else, in order to succeed. We work together to identify strengths and weaknesses and to open new doors to possibilities they haven't even imagined yet. "It's only a matter of hours" (Kalmen Opperman).

Michael Norsworthy is chair of the Conservatory's woodwinds department and also serves as director of the new classical contemporary music performance master's program. 

Norsworthy has been hailed as “a dramatic performer . . . with beautiful tonal nuances” (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review) and "one of the world's best clarinetists" (Michael Finnissy, composer), and he is acclaimed as both a soloist and a sought-after chamber musician. A veritable chameleon, he regularly defies categorization and has captivated critics and audiences around the globe with performances that explore transcendent virtuosity and extremes of musical expression.

Norsworthy's performances have taken him to distinguished concert venues in Vienna, Moscow, New York City, Spain, Italy, England, Festival Casals de Puerto Rico, and the Aspen Music Festival. He has given more than 150 world premieres with leading international contemporary music groups and has collaborated with esteemed composers from around the globe, including Pierre Boulez, Elliott Carter, Michael Finnissy, and Magnus Lindberg. As a soloist, he has performed an extensive repertoire of concerti with orchestras throughout the United States and ensembles in the Americas and Europe. He is principal clarinet with the Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP) and has shared the stage with popular and jazz icons, including Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Savion Glover, and Bela Fleck. He has also performed for combined audiences of more than 730,000 in the touring production Star Wars: In Concert. His current discography of more 40 releases can be found on the Albany, Mode, Cantaloupe, BMOP/sound, New Focus, ECM, and Nonesuch labels. Norsworthy is an artistic advisor and performing artist for Henri Selmer Paris and plays exclusively on Selmer Paris clarinets. He is also an artist/clinician for Vandoren SAS and plays on Vandoren mouthpieces and reeds. 

Norsworthy holds advanced degrees from New England Conservatory and Southern Illinois University. His teachers include Richard Stoltzman, Kalmen Opperman, Elsa Ludewig-Verdehr, and Eric Mandat. Norsworthy is a resident of Boston.

Professional Awards and Recognitions

  • Multiple Grammy Award nominations (Principal Clarinet, Boston Modern Orchestra Project)
  • Commissioning grants (Fromm Music Foundation, 2014, 2006)
  • Massachusetts State Chair (International Clarinet Association, 2016)
  • New Music Grant Recipient (Yvar Mikhashoff Trust)
  • Commissioning grant (AHI, 2015)


Michael Norsworthy & Nancy Zeltsman - Poèmes pour mi (3 movements) by Olivier Messiaen