Michael Nowak began his music studies in the Rhode Island public school system, where he learned violin, clarinet and tuba. His interest in composition and conducting led him to Indiana University, where he met and became a student of the legendary violist, William Primrose, who inspired him to devote himself to the viola. Nowak has served as Assistant Conductor and violist with the Dallas Symphony, conductor of the Young Musicians Foundation Début Orchestra and the Monterey Chamber Orchestra, and has appeared in guest conducting engagements with the Oregon Mozart Players, the Oregon Bach Festival Chamber Orchestra, the Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra, and the University of Southern California Chamber Orchestra. As a violist, he was a member of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra with Sir Neville Marriner until 1980. He made his début as a conductor at Carnegie Hall in April 2001 with the San Luis Obispo Symphony.
In addition to his duties as Music Director of the Santa Maria Philharmonic Society, Mr. Nowak is also Artistic Director of Orchestra Novo in San Luis Obispo County. Maestro Nowak is active as a recording musician and conductor in the motion picture industry. Among the many notable films conducted by Michael Nowak are Academy Award-winning Life of Pi, King Kong, Under the Tuscan Sun, Bobby, American Gangster, Disney’s Bedtime Stories, The Kite Runner, and The Accountant. He also conducted the highly popular ABC TV show Once Upon a Time for 7 seasons.