Michael Shinn, D.M.A., was appointed interim executive director of Boston Conservatory at Berklee in August 2023. In this role, Shinn oversees strategy, operations, and artistic planning for the Conservatory and works closely with faculty members and administrators to develop a transformative curriculum that reflects an ever-evolving performing arts landscape. In addition, Shinn represents the Conservatory and its interests, both across the Berklee organization and in public arenas.
Shinn’s passion for educating creative and versatile performing artists of the future, combined with his steadfast support for the outstanding faculty and students at Boston Conservatory, have been foundational to his leadership. Prior to his appointment as interim executive director, he served as Boston Conservatory’s dean of music from 2017 to 2023. In this role, he established key professional partnerships and collaborations that greatly expanded educational and professional opportunities for students. First, in 2018, he spearheaded a long-term residency with Silkroad Ensemble, which has had a far-reaching impact on the student experience, from performance collaborations at Symphony Hall to Silkroad artist-led modules on artistic risk-taking, wellness, and mindfulness. In fall 2022, Shinn forged a new partnership with Boston Lyric Opera (BLO), which provides indispensable industry connections for current opera students and fosters collaboration with BLO’s Emerging Artist Program and leaders in the field through the new Opera Innovators Series. Shinn has also established relationships with industry leaders in music technology and audio and video production, leading to the development of new required curricula for students across the Conservatory in recording and production.
One of Shinn’s chief goals as dean has been to leverage the merger with Berklee for the benefit of the Conservatory as well as the entire institution. He brokered partnerships with Berklee Valencia, both to launch the study abroad program for Music Division students and to support the Summer Opera Intensive there; with Berklee NYC to record ensembles from the Music Division in 8K virtual reality at their world-class Power Station studios; with the College’s Film Scoring Department to create a competition for their students’ compositions to be recorded at Berklee NYC by ensembles from the Music Division; and with Berklee Online to launch a Boston Conservatory course now available to many thousands of students across the globe. As a result of these initiatives, Boston Conservatory students are now at the vanguard of their fields as artistic changemakers and leaders.
Shinn’s diverse career in music reflects his deep passion for performance, education, entrepreneurship, and innovation in the arts. Prior to joining the Conservatory, Shinn was chair of keyboard studies at The Juilliard School, where he taught piano, chamber music, piano pedagogy, and keyboard skills for both pianists and conductors. He also served as senior advisor for artistic and educational programs at Juilliard Global Ventures, where he designed and taught Juilliard’s first online course, Juilliard Piano Class: Sharpen Your Artistry.
Based on the belief that musicians must successfully communicate through spoken word in addition to performance, Shinn launched the Speaking from the Stage initiative at Juilliard, which prepares students to speak to their audiences at their graduation recitals and engage with arts lovers and future supporters. As a spokesperson for the arts, Shinn has presented and moderated panels about the future of arts education and the role of the arts in society at SXSW EDU, the Pebble Beach Authors and Ideas Festival, SphinxConnect, and the Yamaha Educational Leader’s Summit.
Together with his wife, Jessica (also a pianist and faculty member at the Conservatory), Shinn cofounded and directs the pianoSonoma Music Festival, which has been a major vehicle for supporting the development of the finest young musicians. The festival helps train artists in residence in engaging with audiences and potential supporters through collaborations with adult participants of all backgrounds and creates opportunities for them in performance, teaching, and leading master classes. Shinn has developed impactful partnerships for the festival with Juilliard, Boston Conservatory, the Green Music Center, and more recently the Argyros Performing Arts Center in Sun Valley, Idaho, where pianoSonoma has recently expanded with a new winter edition.
Shinn has designed innovative lectures and courses on a variety of subjects, often focusing on his specialty, the music of Franz Liszt. In 2011, he was the artistic director of the Liszt Festival at Juilliard, a series of lecture-recitals celebrating the composer’s bicentennial that brought together world-class artists and pedagogues including Jerome Lowenthal and Margo Garrett.
Shinn and his wife, Jessica, are both Yamaha Artists and duo pianists who passionately advocate for new music, having given world premieres by composers such as Adam Schoenberg and Thomas Cabaniss. They commissioned the latter to write a major two-piano concerto, Double Rainbow, that is the centerpiece of a recently released album featuring the complete music collection Cabaniss has written for the duo.
Shinn is also a loving father of two, and when time permits he is a passionate runner, cyclist, and triathlete.