Michael Abels Us

Michael Abels and the Music of US

Featuring: Michael Abels

Composer Michael Abels joins us to talk about his latest film, Jordan Peele’s US. Michael previously joined us in 2018 to talk about his score to Get Out. At this event, Michael takes us through the background of the movie, exploring the theme of duality, and talks about how he incorporated that concept into the music, and how he adapted to Jordan Peele’s unique requests to produce this breakthrough and award-winning score.


Michael Abels is an African-American composer known for his orchestra works Global Warming, Delights & Dances, and Urban Legend, and choral pieces such as Be The Change and Limitless. With a, “keen ear for musical color and a deft ability to adapt structural elements from popular music into the symphonic idiom,” (Houston Chronicle) Michael Abels has gained widespread recognition for his orchestral music. Global Warming and Delights & Dances have both been recorded by the Chicago Sinfonietta for the Cedille label.

Best known for combining classical music with African-American jazz, blues, bluegrass and ethnic genres, Michael was asked by writer/director Jordan Peele to compose the music for Get Out. “I wanted Michael Abels, who did the score, to create something that felt like it lived in this absence of hope but still had [black roots],” Peele said in a recent interview for GQ. He also scored Peele’s latest film, Us, which premiered at SXSW, and Spike Lee’s latest Sci-Fi film, See You Yesterday. Up next for Abels includes Bad Education which recently premiered at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival as well as the Netflix feature All Day and a Night.

Born in Phoenix, AZ, Abels attended the University of Southern California where he studiedwith James Hopkins and Robert Linn. Later on in his collegiate career, he studied West African music with Alfred Ladzekpo at the California Institute for the Arts. He currently serves as Director of Music for New Roads School in Santa Monica.

Michael is a past recipient of grants and commissions from the National Endowment for the Arts, Meet The Composer, LA Opera, and many orchestras throughout the country. In his concert career he has worked with James Earl Jones, Doc Severinsen, and a diverse group of other musical artists. Abels also wrote the score for Fantasea at Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium.


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