2023 Pulitzer Prize-winning and Emmy- and Grammy-nominated composer Michael Abels is best known for his genre-defying scores for the Jordan Peele films Get Out, Us and Nope. The score for Us won a World Soundtrack Award, the Jerry Goldsmith Award, a Critics Choice nomination, multiple critics awards, and was named “Score of the Decade” by The Wrap. Both Us and Nope were shortlisted in the Oscars “Best Original Score” category. Nope also won “Best Score for a Studio Film” by the Society of Composers & Lyricists. In addition to his work with Peele, Abels makes an impact with his scores to Bad Education (dir. Corey Finley) starring Hugh Jackman, Nightbooks (dir. by David Yarovesky), and the HBO docu-series Allen v. Farrow. Most recently, Abels scored Landscape With The Invisible Hand (Sundance Film Festival), his second collaboration with director Cory Finley, as well as the Amazon drama The Burial (TIFF) starring Jamie Foxx and Tommy Lee Jones.
Abels’ varied creative output includes many concert works, including the choral song cycle At War With Ourselves for the Kronos Quartet, the Grammy-nominated Isolation Variation for Hilary Hahn, and Omar, an opera co-composed with Grammy-winning recording artist Rhiannon Giddens, which won them the 2023 Pulitzer prize in Music. The New York Times named Omar one of the 10 Best Classical Performances of 2022 and said, “What Giddens and Abels created is an ideal of American sound, an inheritor of the Gershwins’ “Porgy and Bess” but more honest to its subject matter, conjuring folk music, spirituals, Islamic prayer and more, woven together with a compelling true story that transcends documentary.”
Abels other concert works have been performed by the New York Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony, and the Los Angeles Master Chorale. Some of these pieces are available on the Cedille label, including Delights & Dances, Global Warming, and Winged Creatures. Recent commissions include Emerge for the National Symphony and Detroit Symphony, and a guitar concerto Borders for Grammy-nominated artist Mak Grgic.
Abels is co-founder of the Composers Diversity Collective, an advocacy group to increase visibility of composers of color in film, gaming and streaming media.