Dr. Michael Karasis, Composer – bio, audio samples

Dr. Michael James Karasis is an Illinois-based composer and violinist with an extensive musical resume. His compositions range from large-scale works: classical symphonies, concerti for stringed instruments and piano, and oratorios, to string quartets, sonatas, and chamber pieces. They have been performed by some of the finest area orchestras, ensembles and conductors for over three decades, among them: “Concerto for Piano #2”, and “Hail, Scotland.”

Listen here to the Frankenstein Overture with chorus, by Michael Karasis

Frankenstein Overture with chorus

Dr. Karasis is a Chicago native, an alumnus of Millikin University and the SIU Medical School, and a true Renaissance man. Besides maintaining a busy medical practice, Dr. Karasis plays violin in several Chicago-area orchestras, paints, sculpts, and composes extensively.

“When writing music one gets lost in the work itself. No sense of time or place —just the work as it unfolds. I think that is what drives the artist.”

He attended Millikin University in the late 1960’s, and began violin studies with George Nagy (Hungarian immigrant, violin virtuoso), after graduation. His first compositions were string quartets. Initially writing only on weekends as time allowed, he is now, decades later, an accomplished professional with a substantial body of work. His “Violin Concerto No. 1” was recorded by Peter Blagoev, a leading violin virtuoso in the Chicago area. Included in an impressive list of compositions are – a fugue for orchestra, narrated works, tone poems, orchestral suites, and full oratorios.

On a purely musical level, Karasis is GREAT! I love all of the orchestral colors and unimaginable sweeps of emotion, and the classical structure of everything. Karasis has a master technique of instrumentation and uses all the families of instruments very effectively, and the music never loses a forward momentum which I admire.

Jeffrey Kowalkowski, Composer, DePaul University


Though inclined toward composing in the late romantic style, Dr. Karasis also creates modern work, as heard in his “6 Minute Odyssey Through a Black Hole.“ Dramatic vocal or orchestral works include “Chicago Midnight,” and “Shades of Black,” and “Suburban Melodrama,” as well as “Images,” a two-act musical drama. There are full oratorios: “Government Issue,” and “An American Civil War Memorial,” which features narration by the late Senator Paul Simon on its recording.


Among the numerous musical interpretations Karasis has done of literary classics is his “Frankenstien” oratorio, as well these pieces: Plato’s dialogue “Symposium,” Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven” and Percy Shelly’s “Ozymandias.” The aforementioned work “Hail Scotland,” written for orchestra, was performed as a ballet by the Berkshire Ballet of Crystal Lake, Illinois.

Frankenstein program images by M. Karasis

Listen here to an audio sample from “The Wedding”

Frankenstein oratorio “The Wedding”

Those who dare a course to roam
Where no one else has trod
Hear the tale of Frankenstein
Who played the role of, God!

From the Frankenstein oratorio

In Dr. Karasis’ role as a medical doctor, he is an assistant professor of urology at Southern Illinois University, and is based at St. Mary’s Hospital in Decatur, Illinois. His long and distinguished career as a medical doctor and surgeon prompted service in other countries. Since 1974, Dr. Karasis has developed many friendships in Papua New Guinea (PNG), having traveled there to provide consultation, medical, and surgical aid in small village hospitals.


His work inspired by the island nation entitled “New Guinea Horizons,” was performed in March of ‘23 at the Kirkland Fine Arts Center at Millikin University Link: New Guinea Horizons.

LISTEN HERE: https://www.facebook.com/MillikinDecaturSymphonyOrchestra/
WATCH HERE: Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Keq4CcInYxY


COMING EVENTS
Dr. Karasis’ works Prometheus, an overture for orchestra, Frankenstein, an oratorio for chorus and orchestra, and the premiere of The Raven, a tone poem based on Edgar Allen Poe’s classic, will be performed by the Elmhurst Choral Society and Harper Community Orchestra on July 13, 2024 under the direction of Maestro Tony Porter. The concert will take place at the Performing Arts Center of Harper College, Palatine, IL.

“We, the Elgin Master Chorale and the Harper Community Symphony Orchestra, performed this oratorio last Saturday. It’s quite a paean to the national response to the issues that made our entry into World War II a necessity.”

Orchestra member

Listen to Dr. Karasis’s oratorio Government Issue
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=150537563537134
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wisZ8dGtSBs

Photography by Iwona Biedermann


Read the list of Dr. Karasis’ recorded compositions here. https://www.jamieoreilly.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/01/MK-recorded-works-11_23-1-2.pdf

Ensembles that have featured Karasis’ work include:
Harper Community Orchestra, Palatine, IL
Millikin-Decatur Symphony Orchestra, Decatur, IL
Fox Valley Orchestra, Aurora, IL
Chicago Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra (formerly Chicago Businessmen’s Orchestra)
Orchestra of St. Vincent, Chicago, IL
Northwest Symphony, Des Plaines, lL
Birkshire Ballet, Crystal Lake, lL
Elgin Master Choral, Elgin, IL
da Corneto Opera Chorus, Gurnee, IL
Ars Musica of Chicago, Chicago, IL
Oconomowoc Symphony Orchestra, Oconomowoc, Wisconsin

Venues include (developing list):
Harper College Performing Arts Center, Palatine, lL
The Chicago Historical Museum, Chicago, IL
Kirkland Fine Arts Center at Millikin University , Decatur, Il
Prairie Center for the Arts, Schaumburg, IL
Woodstock Opera House, Woodstock, IL
Raue Center for the Arts in Crystal Lake, lL