Michael Orenstein

Jazz Pianist, Composer, Educator

Originally from Berkeley, CA, Orenstein started studying piano at age ten. Almost immediately after, Orenstein took an interest in jazz, and later attended Berkeley High School, known for its renowned jazz program. Through programs like SFJAZZ High School All-Stars, the Jazzschool, and Oberlin Conservatory, Orenstein had the chance to play with Terrence Blanchard, Christian McBride, Wycliffe Gordon, Eddie Henderson, and Billy Childs at an early age.

            In 2017, Orenstein graduated from Oberlin with a B.M. in Jazz Piano as well as a B.A. in Economics. At Oberlin he studied privately with Dan Wall, Sullivan Fortner, and Robin Eubanks.  Upon graduation, Orenstein received the Wendell and Bettye Logan Award In Jazz Studies, “awarded to one senior for outstanding performance and compositional achievement.”

            During his undergrad years, Orenstein was selected to attend the Banff International Workshop in Jazz and Creative music as a TD Fellow, where he got to perform his compositions with Ingrid Jensen and Zakir Hussain. Orenstein has won 3 compositions awards in Downbeat Magazine, as well as an ASCAP Young Jazz Composers award.  Just this past year, Orenstein was the sole winner of the Ravinia Steans Bridges Composition, judged by Billy Childs and Rufus Reid. His piece, “Staircase,” written for jazz quartet and string quartet was performed at the Ravinia Center in Chicago by Glen Zaleski, Greg Ward, Dan Chemilinski, Robert Boone, and the Avalon String Quartet.

In 2018, Orenstein was selected as a finalist for the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance, where he got to audition in front of Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, James Newton, and Ambrose Akinmusire. Most Recently, Orenstein was 1 of 7 finalists for the 2019 American Jazz Pianist Competition in New York.

            Orenstein has been fortunate enough to travel the world by means of music. In addition to playing multiple tours across the United States, Orenstein has played two tours in the Bahamas with Giveton Gelin, and has toured in Canada with Frisson. In June 2018, Orenstein went on tour in South Africa as part of UNISA and the U.S. Embassy’s “South African Jazz Songbook” project. In addition to recording a full album of South African jazz standards, Orenstein led workshops at universities and performed at major venues with a group consisting of South African and American artists.

When Michael is not performing, he enjoys teaching in a variety of settings. He has taught at multiple summer programs, including California Jazz Conservatory's Summer Youth Program. He has also taught many students privately as an instructor of lessons for credit at Oberlin College and as faculty at Fairlawn and Hudson music schools in Ohio. Orenstein now lives in Los Angeles, and is working on many musical projects in addition to teaching students of all ages and skill levels privately. He is currently pursuing his MM in Jazz Piano at USC’s Thornton School of music with a full-ride, stipended assistantship position for Alan Pasqua and Jason Goldman.