Spotting Mikhail Zorich Part 1: A Conversation with MAE's Project Director

Spotting Mikhail Zorich Part 1: A Conversation with MAE's Project Director

Go anywhere in North East Philadelphia and you might just spot Mikhail Zorich, a jovial looking man with a warm smile and friendly voice. You might see him at piano concerts, dance festivals, musical productions, or even street fairs, dressed in a sharp suit or his “I’m a Project Manager” shirt (the caption reads “I solve problems you didn’t know you have in ways you can’t understand”). He is always striking up conversations with those around him.

Mikhail is Project Director at Multicultural Arts Exchange (MAE). He spends his days developing performing arts programing from the beginnings of an idea to real performances. “Visual and performing arts first and foremost, human connection,” Mikhail says. “You meet so many interesting, talented people. You participate and involve in creation of project. It all starts with a conversation. Through the development to the performance.” He talks with performers, venue management, guests at MAE performances, and passerby at public events. He connects the right people, places, and audiences to foster the local arts community.  

Even before MAE, Mikhail found himself in the world of the arts. He went to school for archeology in Ukraine and business management in the United States, but ultimately found himself working Russian Mosaica Heritage Festival. Unfortunately, his time with the festival eventually came to an end. However, he kept doing what he loved--connecting performers with audiences. As he puts it, “I got bit by the performing arts bug.” He started small, putting on events. Mikhail himself was already connected to the local arts community, being nominated as a Creative Connector by the Leadership Philadelphia in 2011. His friend Harrington “Kit” Crisseya, a professor and concert organizer of 13 years, helped by introducing him to more local artists and performers. Mikhail built a pool of artists to perform at his events, at first for free and eventually for pay as the project grew in reach and audience. His biggest event, in 2016, brought both the  Russian Kauriga Balalaika Orchestra and the Italian Munier Orchestra of guitars and mandolins to one concert to the Manayunk Performing Arts Center.

During this time he made the arts his full time job, officially establishing the Multicultural Arts Exchange was in 2015. Reflecting on his experiences at all of those concerts and festivals, Mikhail realized that the impact of the artists he promoted went beyond their Russian origins. “There were elements that resonated with everyone,” Mikhail says. He strived to support to the elements that were unique to the performer’s culture but universal in impact. “I pushed for more diversity,” Mikhail explains, “and came to the name Multicultural Arts Exchange.” 

Pick up the conversation next week with Part 2!

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Guests Have Said

  • “It has been a great pleasure to work with Multicultural Arts Exchange! I enjoyed the company of the organizers - Michael Zorich and his team. Thank you very much for sharing the gift of the brilliant music performance with people. Thanks to you it is affordable and amazing!”
    Vlad Pochepinski
  • "I was lucky to attend a concert in Northeast Philadelphia in a synagogue Shaare Shamayim to see 'Three Tenors' in their tribute to the legendary Maria Lanza. I personally got a great inspiration from an exclusive selection of favorite areas and popular Italian music as from beautiful academic singers. The audience was excited and did not want to leave the hall! Everyone, including myself, is so grateful to Michael Zorich, who organized such a special concert."
    Ella Lomazova
  • “Had a great time on Saturday 9/9 at the opera dinner at Melody Restaurant. Great people running MAE and fantastic singers with Opera on Tap. First time at Melody restaurant and I thought the food was GREAT!”
    Daniel Pantano
  • “I was with my family at the concert yesterday. We all had so much fun. Thanks to the organizers for a wonderful concert! The performance has surpassed all my expectations and left a lasting impression!”
    Natalia Glick
  • “Four of us enjoyed Justin Gonzalez's beautiful voice, his touching stories and great song selection. Even my husband, who only has place for rock in his soul, liked it a lot. Thank you for organizing the concert. Look forward to more events like that!”
    Paulina Korchagin

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