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, the University of Southern California Chamber Orchestra and in the entertainment industry. 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. Since becoming Music Director of the San Luis Obispo Symphony, Michael Nowak has continued his career as a violist with the Music for Mischa String Quartet, as principal violist of the Oregon Bach Festival and San Luis Obispo Mozart Festival, and as a guest artist with the Angeles String Quartet, the Chilmark Chamber Music Festival, the Pacific Serenades, Musical Offering Ensemble and the South Bay Chamber Music Society. He is a featured soloist on the Oregon Bach Festivals Brandenburg Concerti recording with Helmuth Rilling and he is also active as a recording musician and conductor in the motion picture industry.