Michael is a member of the legendary Kemp family of choral musicians. Educated at Oklahoma University, Westminster Choir College, and the Royal Conservatory of Music in The Hague, Holland, Michael was educated equally in the areas of voice performance, viola performance, and conducting. In addition to institutional education, he also studied privately with renowned choral authorities Paul Salamunovich, Philip Brunelle, and Alice Parker, with extensive summer study with Robert Shaw.

Prior to 14 years of teaching Upper School music at Germantown Academy, PA, Michael served as Director of Music Ministries of Abington Presbyterian Church in Abington, PA, after holding other significant church music positions in Nashville, TN and Arlington, TX. While in Texas, he also founded and conducted for eleven seasons the Arlington Choral Society, which critics placed “on the top rung of choral music in the Dallas Metroplex.” During that time he was a choral and church music lecturer at SMU’s Perkins School of Theology. Recognized for his exceptional ability to build programs, Michael has founded and built from ground level many successful ensembles, including four church youth choirs and two high school choirs, two adult community choruses, and one adult community symphony orchestra, in addition to expanding and enhancing existing ensembles. Michael has twice trained choral conductors from throughout Jamaica, and his choirs have toured internationally to Salzburg, Vienna, and Krakow. Michael currently conducts two adult ensembles, the Academy Chorale and Orchestra.


Michael has been an internationally respected clinician for four decades, conducting and lecturing in over 400 workshops and festivals in 43 states and five Canadian provinces. He served extensively as clinician for the Choristers Guild, American Guild of Organists, American Choral Directors Association, the Presbyterian Association of Musicians, and the National Pastoral Association of Musicians. Michael has the distinction of having served as clinician for the national worship and music conferences of fourteen different denominations in the United States and Canada, as well as having conducted numerous All-Province and All-State Honor Choruses. Michael is equally at home working with adults and youth, and his expertise encompasses both choral and orchestral conducting.


Michael is the author of The Choral Challenge, Innovative Warm-Ups for the Volunteer Choir and Rejuvenating Senior Voices. Currently in the process of publication at GIA are his fourth and fifth books, Igniting Choral Rehearsals: Techniques to stimulate, focus, and motivate your singers and Surefire Recruiting for Church Choirs. Michael is a published composer with the Augsburg, Choristers Guild and GIA publishing houses. See Publications for more information.


Michael is also an experienced amateur luthier, having built a viola completely by hand (400 hours), and restored another viola and three violins. Read Good Old Gus to learn more about his latest restoration project.