Michelle Cusick (she/her) is a contemporary artist and new music activist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Born in Flint, Michigan - Michelle started her artistic journey as a clarinet player where she went on to pursue her education in Music Performance on scholarship at Michigan State University. During her time as a student, she performed in several countries and music festivals, including the World Youth Wind Orchestra Project in Schladming, Austria, Fresno Summer Music Academy at California State University - Fresno, ClarinetFest in Madrid, Spain, a summer study abroad in Todi, Italy and participated in multiple Clarinetopia master classes. She also was an alto saxophonist in the Michigan State Spartan Marching Band, where she performed in the 2014 Rose Bowl and 2015 Cotton Bowl and served a year on the operations team.
In an effort to play more music by living composers in non-standardized instrumentations, in 2017 she founded the contemporary chamber ensemble, The _____ Experiment (pronounced 'the blank experiment') with saxophonist Drew Hosler and harpist Natalie Pate where she currently serves as the clarinetist and creative director. In 2019, they received 2nd prize in the Michigan State University Running Start Pitch Competition to fund their first album. The ensemble has gone on to premiere and perform over thirty brand new works for various mixed chamber instrumentations and has grown from three to five members. Additionally, the ensemble debuted their first album, Conversations (2020), featuring all works commissioned by The _____ Experiment. In 2021, the ensemble received multiple prizes at the Charleston Contemporary Music Competition and in 2022 will be a part of multiple residencies, including Bowling Green State University's Praecepta New Music Fest.
Michelle has commissioned and premiered multiple works for clarinet, including Conversations (2017) for clarinet and harp by Josh Trentadue, and Say My Name (2018) for clarinet, saxophone, and harp by Kincaid Rabb, in addition to all the commissions performed and premiered by The _____ Experiment.
Outside of music, Michelle is known for being a photographer and graphic designer. Her photography and designs have been featured in magazines including Rolling Stone, Control Design, and various engineering and manufacturing magazines as well as highway billboards and semi-truck wraps. Her portraiture photography has represented many artists and professionals from all over the world and she runs her own business, Mychelle Design, LLC doing brand/logo design, album artwork and photography for small businesses.
In 2020, she began a post-baccalaureate degree in computer science at Oregon State University where she plans to combine her fascination with technology, art & design, and music together to create creative solutions within the art field and work as a software engineer.
Michelle currently holds a Bachelor of Music in Music Performance from Michigan State University. Her primary clarinet teachers include Dr. Meghan Merciers and Dr. Guy Yehuda. She is also an alumna of the honorary band fraternity, Kappa Kappa Psi.