The 1950s

Michael Mortilla has been involved with music for as long as he has lived. Born to a professional concert singer, his first lessons were likely in the womb. A few piano lessons from family members and a public school music education as a percussionist form the basis for most of his formal training.

The 1960s

Inevitably, drums lead to rock & roll, which lent itself to guitar in the late 1960’s, when he attended the “original” Woodstock Festival. Guitar developed into song writing and “messing around” with keyboards. Public school also meant involvement with theater in the orchestra pit, onstage as a performer, and in the booth as a sound designer.

The 1970s

Upon graduating from high school, he was immediately invited back to his alma mater to arrange & direct music, and conduct orchestras for the theater department for several years (services he also provided to many theater groups on Long Island). During this period, Mr. Mortilla also took a handful of piano lessons from a dozen or so teachers and developed his unique skill in improvisation in classical, romantic, baroque, and modern styles. In the mid-1970's, Michael began composing & performing as his full-time profession, which continues to this day.

The early 1980s

Fortuitously, this lead to a position with the Martha Graham Dance Company. Mr. Mortilla was touring company pianist and Miss Graham’s musician of choice for most events and projects in the following six years. Michael was the last composer to have collaborated directly with Miss Graham in the studio on a produced work. The resulting work was filmed and performed at The White House, the Kennedy Center, on the PBS Great Performances series, the McNeil Leher News Hour, and continues to be aired on the Classic Arts Showcase. Several members of the Graham Company commissioned scores from Mr. Mortilla, as did many students from the Martha Graham and Alvin Ailey schools, where he was a full time pianist.

The late 1980s to 2000

Mr. Mortilla was invited to join the faculty of UC Santa Barbara in the position of Principal Musician, Resident Composer, and lecturer in theater and dance. He remained in those positions for 14 years until relocating to Los Angeles to devote his full energies toward composing, performing, and sound design. Simultaneous with his tenure at UCSB, Mr. Mortilla continued to work in theatre, dance, concert composing & performing internationally. His work in film, television & radio as a composer, sound designer, and music director also began to intensify at this time.

2000 and beyond

Mr. Mortilla currently resides in Burbank, CA and is regularly engaged by The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, The National Film Preservation Foundation, Turner Classic Movies, The Getty Center, Catalina Island Museum Silent Film Festival, and other equally prestigious organizations. He maintains a rigorous composing and performance schedule, working predominantly under commission and for special projects.

In 2015, Mr. Mortilla played a non-stop marathon of silent films from the Weimar Republic, performing nearly nine hours at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) to close their "New Objectivity" exhibit. Over 3000 visitors attended the event from opening to closing of the museum. After that event, Mr. Mortilla began taking art classes at LACMA and sold his first work within 6 months. Since then he has created dozens of painting and thousands of works on paper, many of which reside on the walls of art partons across America.