Peter Michael von der Nahmer (“Mike) is a composer, sound researcher and Maker of Transformative Theater based in New York City. His American/German/Cuban heritage influences the questions of identity, complexity, and transcendent connection that shape his music. He has written over 27 works for music theater and dance, and over 50 works for concert and film; many have received national/international awards, and been performed around the world. Most recently he was awarded the 2016 McKnight Visiting composer residency, where he will work on new musical theater pieces concerning the German origins of residents of New Ulm, MN.
Mike holds a B.A. in composition from the University of Music and Performing Arts, Munich and an M.A. in Music Therapy from the University of Augsburg. He holds certificates in Film Scoring from the UCLA, and in Music Pain Treatment (music therapy treatment for patients with chronic pain) from the Magdeburg-Stendal University of Applied Sciences. In May 2015, he received an M.F.A. in Musical Theater Writing from New York University, where he held a Tisch School of the Arts Departmental Fellowship.
Mike studied under Broadway Composers Mel Marvin and Fred Carl, classical composer Hans Jürgen Wenzel, and film composers Thomas Newman, Jeff Rona, Lee Sanders, and Craig Stuart Garfinkle. He later studied traditional Chinese music with composer Wang Ai Qun. Beyond his formal training, he was influenced by his father, an artist and healer who was later a Hindu priest; by traditional forms of healing, fairytales and myth; and by traditional Jewish and Indian music. His work naturally connects western classical music with other musical forms.
Miky was born in Germany to a family of scientists and artists. His mother, a sound engineer at the local television company in Munich, introduced him to film, TV, and the synesthetic power of the audible to affect how we experience images. She became his first mentor when, at age 12, he ventured into music composition. This soon led him to create his first successful band, Authentic Dreams, in 1994.
Mike’s father, the son of an extraordinary scientist who would create one of the largest chemical factories in the world, was indifferent to conventional science. He pursued healing and art, becoming an expert in gem stones. He introduced Mike to traditional music cultures (especially Jewish and Hindu), and allowed him to play his beloved Veena, an Indian stringed instrument. He also encouraged Mike to believe that while there are phenomena that science cannot penetrate, there are still questions we can ask coming from the perspective of transcendent truth.
Mike’s barrier-breaking, eclectic background explains his passion for music both as artistic expression and as a means to connect disparate cultures. His desire to be an agent of radical connection – to literally create harmony out of apparent dissonance – is his defining motivation.
For the stage – His work for the stage includes “Welcome to Hell” (2018) (libretto by Peter Lund), “Tightrope – An Electropera” (2016/2017) (libretto by Tatiana Wechsler, developed and premiered as part of the premiered 2016 Artists’ Beit Midrash Group of the Town and Village Synagogue), the short opera “Ho! Ho! Ho!”(2015) (libretto by Kate Chadwick, premiered at the Hartford Opera Theater 2015), ballet chanté“Talking City”(2015 (libretto by John Dietrich, commissioned by Jonathan Haas), the musical dramas “Esther”(2015) (libretto by Emily Roller), song “Night After Night”(2014) (commissioned by “Sing Away the Stigma”), one act opera “The Cookies Call – A Tragic”“Tragedy”(2014) (libretto by Emily Roller), “SPAM: a song cycle”(2008/2012) (libretto by Scott Guy), “El Canguro”(2011) (libretto by Cynthia Ferrell, selected for the California International Theater Festival 2011), the youth opera “Klangwandler”(2010) (libretto by Kai Ivo Baulitz, commissioned by the Neuköllner Opera Berlin), one act opera “20 Minuten”(2009) (libretto by Andreas Bisowski, awarded the Berlin Opera Prize 2010), “Von Zeyt Zu Zeit”(2005) (libretto by Johannes Ponader, commissioned by the city of Neuburg,), “The Ultimate Musical” (2005) (libretto by Virginia Emrick), the musicals “Lupus Albus”(1998) (libretto by Martin Decker) and one act opera “Zwischen Illusion und Wirklichkeit” (1995).
Dance – His work for dance includes “Nia Wa Ja Shu” (2017) (commissioned by Rajon Miller), “Reflections” (2016) (commissioned bz FJK DANCE), “Home” (2016) (commissioned by FJK DANCE), “Psychogramm” (2015/2016) (commissioned by Hala Shah), ballet chanté“Talking City” (2015 (commissioned by Jonathan Haas, libretto by John Dietrich, original choreography by Christen Svingos), “Rosiland”(2014) (original choreography by Hala Shah),“Mashrabiya” (2014) (commissioned by the LaGuardia Performing Arts Center, original choreography by Hala Shah), “Passing-Over” (2014) (commissioned by the Jewish Community Center Manhattan, original choreography by Hala Shah), “ABAYFOR” (2002) (commissioned by ABAYFOR), “Circuit(2002) (commissioned by Art Illuminas), “Darkness of Water” (2001) (commissioned by a Dance Company in Tokyo/Japan).
Concert – His work for concert includes “Cage 100 – Party Pieces Project” (2012) (commissioned by the “Forum Zeitgenössische Musik Leipzig”), “Moving on…”(2010) (Commissioned by Villa Musica Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany), “Powerwalk(2003/2008) (Winner of the C. Keith Birkenfeld Composition Competition), “No Attetüde!” (2008) (awarded 1stand special prize at the ISME-IVME 2ndinternational Composition Contest 2008, Belgium), “Anatomy of Rhythm”(2008) (commissioned by Janus Percussion, underwritten by the American Composers Forum with funds provided by the Jerome Foundation), “Above the Sky”(2008) (commissioned by the Nativity Episcopal Church, Minnesota), “Rhythm some Blues”(2007) (recipient of an Encore Grant from the American Composers Forum), “African Dream”(2007) & “Dance of the Fairies”(2007) (both commissioned by CARISMA in Australia and recorded for ABC Classics), Hip Hop for Piano”(2007) (winner of the RenéeB. Fisher Composer Award, commissioned by the Neighborhood Music School with funds provided by the Renée B. Fisher Foundation), “Missa Brevis” (2006) (2ndprize Oberschwäbische Chorverband, Germany), “Intome(2004) (commissioned by Flaccord), “The Monk and the Fish” (2003/2004) (awarded the Masterworks Prize and Dr. J. Howland Auchinclose Prize at the Society for New Music), Fairy-“Tale Adventure for Children” (2003) (2ndPrize at the 20thSiegburger Composition contest 2008, Germany), “Persiflamia” (2003) (finalist in the FAO’s 2006 International Composition Competition, USA), “Symphony for the world” (2001) (commissioned by Age of Harp) and “Atem”(2000) and “Sax’eon”(2002) (both commissioned by Sax’eon).
Awards, Scholarships, and Honors
In addition to the awards cited above, Mike has received numerous other awards, scholarships, and honors, including the “Small Arts Project Grant” by the Prairie Lake regional Arts Council, Minnesota for the first “Musical Tales Concerto Festival”, sponsorship from the New Ulm Chapter of Optimist Club International “Bringing out the best in children” for his “Growing Wise”project, the SU-CASA Residency with “Growing Young” by the Queens Council on the Arts, an honorable mention at the “New World Composition Challenge” by the New York Philharmonic (2017); winner of the MV Film Composer Competition in California with “St. Martin”(2017), “Ho! Ho! Ho!”selected by the 2017’s Fresh Squeezed Ounce of Opera Competition in Austin, Texas; an audience favorite Award for “Oscillate”with choreographer Hala Shah at the Joy of Motion Dance Center’s annual “Dance Projekt” (2015) in Washington DC; ASCAPlus Awards; selection for the Society of Composers (SCI) Region II Student Mix Tape (2015) with “Sprout”;selection by the New Music Conflagration – Sounds by the Sea (2015), Florida, with “Circuit;”conference funding grant from NYU (2014); Kinder zum Olymp! (2011);fellowship student at the OpenForum — the international Festival for alternative Music Theater “OpenOp 2010” in collaboration with the Neuköllner Opera; 5-month residency at the Herrenhaus Edenkoben (Germany) to work on his opera “El Canguro”(2009); guest composer at the Bar Harbor music festival with “The Monk and the Fish”(2008); Jerome Foundation Grant (2007); invitation to ASCAP Film Scoring Workshop (2007); composer in residence for Emrich Production Group (2006-2008); Susan and Ford Schuman Award & Maestro’s Circle Scholarship for participation in the Aspen Music Festival & School (2005); scholarship at 14thAnnual O’Neill Puppetry Conference (Connecticut); one of 3 finalists for a call for composers for a new Broadway musical “Stepping out of Time”in New York (2003); composer in residence for Age of Harp (an unusual ensemble of 6 harps) (2001-2002); invitation to orchestra workshop for young composers with the orchestra pieces “Zwischen Illussion und Wirklichkeit”(1996) and “Natura et Homo”(1997) in Halberstadt, Germany.
In addition to his work as a composer, Mike has worked as a sound designer and consultant for interdisciplinary research projects such as at the BMW Group Research and Innovation Center in Munich, and has taught composition, film scoring, music theory, musical theater writing, music psychology, sound research and music therapy at the University of Augsburg and other academies institutions in Germany. His scientific research areas include the creative process, problem solving in music creation as a tool of diagnosis and therapeutic intervention, and composition/music theater writing and cognition. He has frequently given speeches about his artistic work and research at congresses, hospitals, schools and universities.
In 2014 he received a conference-funding grant by New York University to take part in a round table “Play it again! Symposium on Musical Composition process in Music therapy” where he talked about “Things might or might not change if you play theme again… How patients find and develop form, context and logic in their compositions”
He developed the project MuTaDra(Music – Theater – Drama) that uses musical theater writing as way or artistic expression as well as therapeutic intervention, which he uses in different settings both at clinics and universities.
The nature of human being is to connect through story telling using words, msic and imagery. Mike devotes his life to realizing the myriad ways these primal expressions of the “self” intersect and build one aonther. He has devised an approach he calls MuTaDra (Music – Theater – Drama); the idea being that discoveries can be made between the worlds of music, theater and drama. MuTaDra is structure designed to help us learn from the drama inherent in all our lives, on and off the stage.
Part of MuTaDra are the following projects:
Growing Young Across America: In this project he and his team of two writers go to different places in America gathering the stories of the elderly there, translating them into short musical theater pieces. The stories are mainly focusing on the teenager years of the seniors and the finished pieces are performed by young actors, showing that we are are one people, creating an inclusive circle valuing life at any age and making connection through deep knowledge of the other and a collective sense of America.
Growing Wise: This is program for teenager connecting the world and study of science with musical theater writing.