Michael Shinn

Michael Shinn began his tenure as Dean of Music at Boston Conservatory at Berklee in 2017. Shinn’s passion for educating creative and versatile musicians of the future, combined with his commitment to and support for the outstanding faculty and students at BCB have been foundational to his leadership. As dean, he directs artistic planning and strategizing for the division and works closely with the faculty and administration to develop and refine the curriculum to be innovative, cutting-edge, and relevant. As the voice of the division, Shinn represents all matters pertaining to the community in Berklee-wide forums, as well as in all external partnerships.

The first collaboration Shinn brought to the Conservatory was with the Silkroad Ensemble, which has impacted the student experience in myriad ways ranging from performance collaborations at Symphony Hall to artistic risk-taking in the classroom. This long-term residency has been especially beneficial for students in recent years, as Silkroad artists led modules connecting health, wellness, and mindfulness with artistry and creativity. In fall of ‘22, Shinn forged a new partnership with Boston Lyric Opera, which provides indispensable industry connections for current opera students and fosters collaboration with BLO’s Emerging Artists 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 for the benefit of the Conservatory as well as the entire institution. To realize this goal, 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 BerkleeNYC to record ensembles from the Music Division in 8k virtual reality at these world-class studios; with the College’s Film Scoring Department to create a competition for their students’ compositions to be recorded at BerkleeNYC by ensembles also from the Music Division; and with Berklee Online to launch a course that is unique to BCB but now available to many thousands of students through the wide reach of that institution. As a result of these initiatives and the partnerships Shinn has brought to the Music Division, Boston Conservatory students are now at the vanguard of their fields to be 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 this appointment at Boston Conservatory at Berklee, 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 was the professor for 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 BCB), Michael co-founded and directs the pianoSonoma Music Festival. Now entering its 13th season, pianoSonoma has been a major vehicle through which the Shinns have been able to support the development of the finest young musicians as they enter into endlessly creative careers. The festival helps train these 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 masterclasses. 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, ID, 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.

Michael and 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 marathon runner and triathlete.