Grammy nominated cellist Michelle Djokic enjoys a versatile career as chamber musician, soloist, and orchestral player. After appearing with Emerald City Music in 2018, a review in Seattle’s Sunbreak stated, “Bloch’s Prayer for cello and piano from his Jewish Life No. 1 was a moving and beautiful evocation of Jewish life in the hands of Michelle Djokic… Her sound had warmth, depth, and gentleness…” Michelle’s lifelong passion for chamber music and the collaborative process of rehearsing was her inspiration for the launching of Musikiwest in 2017 based in Palo Alto, CA. Musikiwest harnesses the collaborative power of chamber music to engender empathic awareness, promote conflict resolution, and build peaceable communities. Using scripted “open rehearsals” in a unique and creative format, Musikiwest addresses difficult issues in young people’s lives such as bullying, shaming, and exclusion. The most sought after performing artists of today gather for this meaningful opportunity to share with adolescents through their incredible artistry and generosity of spirit. Hundreds of lives continue to be impacted by this powerful experience.
Michelle is also the founder and director of Concordia Chamber Players based in New Hope, PA since 1997. Concordia has commissioned and premiered new works by Clarice Assad as well as J.P. Jofre. Since its inception, Michelle has presented the most gifted artists with creative programming in the bucolic setting of Bucks County. In addition to her Concordia appearances on the east coast, Michelle mentors young students of the Foundation Academy Charter Public School in Trenton, NJ through the Stand Partners program.
Michelle is the last of seven children born to survivors of WWII. Michelle’s French mother lived in occupied France and her Serbian father, part of the underground forces, was liberated by the Americans from a concentration camp in occupied France. Despite neither parent having gone to college and Michelle’s father having to work in a steel mill most of his life in the US, many sacrifices were made for all seven children to be provided with music lessons. Education was the most valued element of their upbringing. Music was only intended to be part of their education and so the eldest went on to pursue their studies at Rutgers, Harvard, Oberlin and Princeton. The love for music instilled in the children however, could not be denied. The last three children pursued their studies in music receiving their degrees at The Juilliard School.
Michelle made her debut as soloist with the Philadelphia Orchestra at 12 years of age and went on to win numerous competitions. She has worked as principal cellist with several orchestras throughout the country. She is currently a member of the New Century Chamber Orchestra in San Francisco.
She is married to squash legend, Mark Talbott who is the founder and director of the squash program at Stanford University. They have two children, one of whom is in medical school at Duke University and the other works alongside his father at Stanford as a squash coach. Music was always part of their lives and Michelle believes it very much contributed to their positive and empathic engagement with the world.