New Ulm to New York and back again

Submitted photo Composer Michael von der Nahmer (right) works with students.

NEW ULM – A year ago, as life was humming with summer business, a prolific and compelling composer arrived in town exploring the GermanAmerican heritage in New Ulm.

Peter Michael von der Nahmer, the 2016 McKnight Foundation Composer in Residence, settled in for two months to work with local writers, musicians, and the seniors at Orchard Hill Senior Living. Today neither New Ulm nor Mike (as he likes to be called) are quite the same, for both were touched and transformed by the other.

Mike, who has been composing since the age of 12, has always sought to address questions of identity and connectivity through music and storytelling. In New Ulm he developed his “Growing Young and Growing Wise” programs and in so doing, began changing lives, including his own. Once Mike’s residency was over, he was off to Germany launching a fullscale musical about the G20 protests in Hamburg.

But he kept touch with New Ulm and continued to look for ways to mentor creative collaboration and original storytelling developing our local talent. Next month he returns for the upcoming music/theater writing workshop Musical Tales Concerto¨ sponsored by the Grand Center for Arts and Culture and Growing Wise, a science/music day camp for older youth supported by the Optimist Club, both this August 2018. Space and scholarships are still available and you can apply at: and

Mike took what he learned in New Ulm and brought Growing Young to New York City where it landed successfully at a senior center in Queens, NY. Throughout his various projects Mike has been and continues to be an industrious composer. In the first half of 2018 he not only wrote “Welcome to Hell,” a critically acclaimed and sold out musical theatre production in Berlin, his “Mashrabiya” was published on a CD entitled “The Minimal Piano Series, Vol 1” and he completed “Blue Hum,” an original four movement piece in the Coming Home Art Song Cycle , set to premier in Toronto this month. He is also at work on the development of several exciting projects including the musical drama “Esther” at the Junge Oper RheinMain set for 2020, “Blutwurz” for the Camerloher Gymnasium Freising in 2019.

In addition to musical theatre, Mike von der Nahmer writes opera and composes music for world class musicians. He is developing a VideOpera about Twitter, “When Falling…Dive” and is in early development on an opera for all ages: a fairytale about monsters and a cantankerous bread maker. He writes for pianist Susanne Kessel, for her international composition project “250 piano pieces for Beethoven” and recently completed a cantata for solo violinist Ravenna Lipchik, who performed in “Correspondence Theory,” an evening of short theatrical works premiered in New York City.

The words ‘productive’ and ‘diverse’ don’t adequately describe the breadth and depth of what Mike can do. Pulsing beneath everything he does lies a powerful drive to connect people, tell stories and reveal truths about what it is to be a human being. He is composer, sound designer, and maker of transformative theatre. Peter Michael von der Nahmer brings honesty to his music and people respond in kind with an honesty of their own. As our community develops new partnerships, building on the solid tradition of music and theater here, we are fortunate to have attracted the attention of this talented man working to expand the opportunities of our local youth and adults in their exploration of music, storytelling and collaboration through local support.


Anita Prestidge is a writer, singer and director from New Ulm, MN

Marianna Mott Newirth is a librettist, playwright and producer in New York, NY