As a concert artist he frequently programs his own works for guitar in solo, chamber and orchestral settings. His most recent major piece, “Flame of the Blue Star of Twilight” (for soprano, guitar and orchestra), received its premiere performance by the Northwest Symphony Orchestra with soprano Alexandra Picard.
Known for his creative programming, Michael has introduced electric guitar into his "classical" programs and extended the repertoire and audience of his instrument not only with his own compositions and transcriptions, but also by premiering and commissioning works by some of today's most exciting emerging composers. Michael has premiered dozens of new works for classical and electric guitar in solo, chamber and orchestral settings.
Michael's newest recording is a double CD of his arrangement of the "Complete Bach Cello Suites" released in September, 2014. His previous four releases were albums of contemporary music for classical and electric guitar. Three solo albums ("Ten Years Passed," "Shard" and "Push") all featured works composed by Nicolella (including an electric guitar concerto and a classical guitar concerto); as well as music written for Nicolella and recent masterworks by: Toru Takemitsu, Luciano Berio, Elliott Carter and Steve Reich.
Nicolella has collaborated and performed with a wide range of artists including: the Seattle Symphony, Merce Cunningham Dance Company,Northwest Symphony Orchestra, soprano Alexandra Picard, jazz singer Johnaye Kendrick, Seattle Chamber Players, Charanga Danzon, prog rock legend Jon Anderson, Seattle Modern Orchestra, Broadway stars Bernadette Peters and Brian Stokes Mitchell, classical music comedians Ingudesman and Joo, violinist Gil Shaham and the Seattle Guitar Trio which performed Michael's arrangement of Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring." As a performer and composer, he has received awards from ASCAP, the American Composers Forum, 4Culture, Wisconsin Arts Board, Washington State Arts Commission, Seattle Arts Commission and was first prize winner of both the Portland and Northwest solo classical guitar competitions.
Michael is a graduate of Yale University, Berklee College of Music and the Accademia Chigiana in Siena, Italy. He is on the faculty of Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle.