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Misha Segal - Founder

Composer, Arranger, Conductor, Producer, Songwriter, Pianist

Awards + Recognition

  • Emmy Award Winner: “Andreas Story” - ABC
  • Emmy Award Nomination: “Look Away” - PBS
  • Black Reel Nomination: “Mooz-lum”
  • Brit Award Winner: Soundtrack for “Phantom of the Opera”
  • Israeli Oscar Award Nomination: “For My Father”
  • JAZZIZ Critics Choice: Best Music of the Year: “Connected to the Unexpected” - (JVC)
  • President Gerald Ford Collaboration: Boy Scouts of America Anniversary Project
  • Israeli Grammy Award Winner: “VOICES”

Few individuals can go from writing movie scores and theater music to composing for and conducting symphony orchestras, writing and producing pop songs, playing jazz. Native Israeli Misha Segal does exactly that. He loves the genuine freedom to pursue the music genre of his choice.

Fluent in many musical languages, Misha Segal exemplifies a border-free musician. His ability to infuse different cultural influences and music styles into his work is one reason why he has won major awards in three different continents. 

With over 100 feature film scores to his credit, Misha Segal’s contributions to the film world include Berry Gordy’s - The Last DragonThe Phantom of the Opera, which received wide critical acclaim for its originality, depth and scope and the Brit Award for “Best Soundtrack/Cast Recording”; and the all-time favorite kids’ movie, The New Adventures of Pippi Longstocking, among numerous other domestic and international movies. His small screen work earned him both an Emmy award and an Emmy nomination. Misha also collaborated with Ambassador Abba Eban on a 5 hour series called Israel – A Nation is Born and with President Gerald Ford on a project celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Eagle Scouts of America.

From lyrical solo piano excursions to searing orchestral scores; whether he’s conducting a 90-piece orchestra in Hungary, an 80-piece orchestra in Dublin, or solo-playing his beautiful piano compositions for cancer patients – for Misha it is just another day in the office.

Son of a Russian amateur musician and jazz lover, Misha was exposed to Louis Armstrong and Benny Goodman from an early age. His Viennese mother’s love of Johann Strauss and American musical theater (“Annie Get Your Gun” was her favorite) was shared with her son. Growing up he discovered The Beatles and Elton John. Suffice it to say, between his parents and the environment he grew up in, Misha was exposed to every kind of music - Russian, Viennese, Arabic, Israeli, Classical, British Rock ‘n Roll and America’s jazz. 

A vanguard in his native Israel, Misha’s jazz, rock, pop, and classical compositions (performed by the Israeli Philharmonic and the Israeli Chamber Ensemble, among others) helped revolutionize the local contemporary music. Misha was constantly searching for new sounds, new horizons and ground-breaking ideas. Considered to be one of the leading cultural influences in Israel, he garnered numerous #1 hits. His interpretation and application of western music influences combined with his unique musical style, Misha is considered among the most important influences in Israeli pop and rock songwriting.

A graduate of Berklee College of Music in Boston, Misha initially studied under Israel’s foremost composers—Paul Ben-HaimNoam Sherrif and Isaac Sadai—as well as film and philosophy at Tel Aviv University. Misha has also studied composition and conducting at the Guildhall School of Music in London, and apprenticed under expert and master of 20th century composition techniques composer Dieter Schönbach in Germany. Misha also studied with Leon Kirchner of Harvard University in Cambridge and spent a year on the composition doctoral program at CUNY

Prior to relocating to Los Angeles, Misha enjoyed a successful career in New York, where he was managed by Miles Davis’s legendary producer Teo Macero.  He worked forColumbia Records and RCA. He had the privilege of writing, arranging, orchestrating or producing for such artists as Luther VandrossNancy WilsonBob JamesBuddy RichMaynard FergusonPhyllis Hyman and Dave Grusin. After moving to Los Angeles, Misha was commissioned by Berry Gordy, founder of Motown Records, to compose and write for Motown’s artists and eventually scoring Berry Gordy’s final major film titled “Berry Gordy’s - The Last Dragon.” Misha also composed the love theme song for the movie, which was performed by Smokey Robinson.

As a producer and writer, Misha’s album Don’t Say It’s Over (Warner Brothers) features vocalist Randy Crawford, and was #1 on the New Adult Contemporary (NAC) Charts for 3 weeks. Misha’s own album, Connected to the Unexpected (JVC), was played by the top NAC stations and more than 200 college stations across the country. Far ahead of its time, reviewers praised “Connected” as a “new genre in music.” Misha’s  first CD,Zambooka, (Music Masters), features legendary artists Chick CoreaFreddy Hubbardand Mark Isham. It was endorsed by both Quincy Jones and Bob James and hit #1 with the Critic’s Choice Awards in JAZZIZ magazine.

Misha recorded a three CD compilation titled Christmas Healing. This was preceded by another two CD piano compilation, Female. Described by fans as a cross between Chopin’s Nocturnes, Erik Satie and a laid back Keith Jarrett, the collection consists of improvised, original music. Female was the core of Misha’s concert series: “Beauty Found in Unlikely Places.” The inspiration behind this project was Elisabeth Segal (Misha’s mother) and her un-breakable spirit. A Holocaust survivor, she lost a six year battle with lung cancer on Mother’s Day 2001. Misha used the concert series as an opportunity to heighten public knowledge of lung cancer and help inspire and heal those battling the disease. In 2010 Misha released another CD under his own label. This fun project called Highly Classified was with collaboration with sax star ‘Blue’ Lou Marini(SNL, Blues brothers and much more.)

The Forbidden Band™

The Forbidden Band™ is by far the most significant milestone in Misha’s illustrious career.
A lifetime of a profoundly diverse musical voyage culminating in an artistic and philosophical statement expressed in a grand scale.

In 2011 Misha started working on a new CD idea. Having just finished the score for the movie Muz-loom he decided to use the theme from that movie as a staring point. The music for Muz-loom incorporated, besides traditional scoring, Middle Eastern elements, which is part of Misha’s upbringing and which he thought would be a nice touch. What started as a core idea for a CD exploded into a life changing experience – the birth of The Forbidden Band.

It all starts with a phone call from a young New York, African-American, Muslim director. Qasim Bashir called Misha letting him know that he had just seen a movie called For My Father which Misha had scored. Q loved the score, which, again utilized Middle Eastern elements within a legit Hollywood-style score. “That’s exactly what I am looking for” he said. After finding out the subject matter of the movie, which dealt with Muslim students at a college in Michigan in the aftermath of 9/11 Misha hesitated for a moment. “You know that I am from Israel and I am Jewish, are you sure you’re OK with me doing the music?” Q smiled, “I am hiring you because I love what you did for “For My Father” and I know you are right for my movie. If there’s controversy as a result, let it be, I accept it with a blessing…”

Well, as Misha was working on that theme for his new CD he realized at once that this was going to be a major undertaking what with Misha’s piano playing plus a symphony orchestra, a rhythm section, and various Middle Eastern musicians to incorporate authentic, indigenous instrumentation. Misha decided to call his friend Avli Avliav and see if he would help with some ideas for the production. Avli listened to the first track and loved it instantly. He suggested adding a solo in the middle of the piece. So George Hamad, a Syrian virtuoso violin player was called in. When all was said and done Misha became aware of something. He turned to Avli and said: "Do you realize that we have been making music with an Iraqi, a Lebanese and a Syrian – our “fiercest enemies!!!” and at that - we actually had a lot of fun…

The Forbidden Band idea was born. “This is much bigger than a CD project” Misha said. “There is a huge message here which I would like to communicate to the world. If we can have so much fun playing music together with people who are considered to be our enemies, then we should create a band that carries the message and shows the world that people can get along no matter their background, religion, gender or age. If enough people get the idea that wars are insane and that killing one another does not solve problems, maybe we can help cause a change. And what better way to show an example than through music!”

And that, in short, is the background story to this ambitious concept called The Forbidden Band.

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