Michael Aukofer was raised in Wichita, KS and graduated from Bishop-Carroll High School in 1992. His music career began in high school teaching local drummers, percussion ensembles and performing on the drumset in nightclubs with rock band: Euphoria, metal band: Tainted Saint and cover band: Exit Stage Left.

From 1992-1997 Michael attended Friends University in Wichita, KS. and graduated with a Bachelors Degree in Music Education (choral and instrumental). Michael’s primary instrument of study was percussion, however, his first year of college was spent with casts on both hands. These injuries were the result of years of heavy drumming in his performing bands. Even with this temporary handicap, Michael was able to continue with his course work and focused his practice time on composition, ear training and piano skills.

One of Michael's first "traditional" influences in music was Scott Farthing. While at Friends, Scott was the accompanist for the renowned Friends University Choir, The Singing Quakers, and was also involved in community theater productions and local churches. Playing drums and percussion with Scott was Michael's first professional work outside of teaching and performing with the bar bands/rock bands. Scott has since gone on to receive his Doctorate of Musical Arts and is an active teacher, composer/arranger, serving as musical director in southern California.

Another influence in Michael's music career was with Rich Mullins an accomplished singer/songwriter and recording artist, who had been attending Friends University to complete an education degree he had started years earlier in Ohio. While the two of them had a few classes together, their initial relationship was purely social (just hanging out together). It wasn't until later that Michael started working and performing with Rich. The first full tour of Rich’s that Michael was a part of was the 28 city “Liturgy, Legacy and a Ragamuffin Band” tour in the summer of 1994.

In succession with his undergraduate work, Michael composed several works for percussion as well as a ballet with choreographer Melonie Buchanan. Some of these compositions were published through Studio 4 Music, Los Angeles, CA.

Prior to Michael’s graduation in 1997, he was awarded the annual Kansas Cultural Trust. This financial award provided the opportunity for ongoing study with composer William Kraft in Los Angeles, CA. In addition to many composition awards and accolades, William Kraft is well known for his work and collaboration with the legendary Russian composer Igor Stravinsky - for the eight years Mr. Stravinsky lived and worked in the United States.

The summer after Michael graduated from Friends with the Music Education degree, he went on a final tour with Rich Mullins and his band “Kid Brothers of St. Frank”. Upon completion of the tour in August of 1997 many of the musicians from the tour congregated in a studio in Illinois to contribute to Mitch McVicker’s first solo album – Mitch was a member of the Kid Brothers of St. Frank. “We had 4 weeks to complete this album, so the recording schedule was challenging and it was coming on the heels of an already exhausting summer tour”. When this 4-week recording session finished up, Rich, Mitch, Michael and Eric Hauck headed out in 2 vehicles to begin a short string of concerts in the middle of September 1997.

Michael and Eric made it to the destination and quickly learned Rich and Mitch were not going to make it. They had an accident that night in Illinois which took Rich’s life and left Mitch severely injured. They were also both able to be with Mitch and his family as Mitch was fighting for his life in a Peoria, IL hospital. This time of support was not only essential for Mitch and the McVicker family, it also offered Michael extended periods of solitude to begin to comprehend this tragedy and the changes that were to come.

Already involved in a few studio recording projects, a few months after the accident Michael traveled to Nashville to play drums/percussion on a CD by the group Alathea. Their project encountered some difficulty getting off the ground, and Michael ended up producing the CD as well as playing the drums on it. “One thing led to another and Nashville ended up being called “home” for the next year and a half”.

While in Nashville, Michael continued to produce, perform, and compose ... including projects by Ryan Long (3), Eric Hauck (3), Rufus Tree (2), Tom Frye (2), as well as two more LP's with Althea.

One other set of recording projects Michael had the privilege to be a part of were instrumental recordings with Phil Keaggy. These recordings with Phil would later become a four volume "Music To Paint By" CD set. “Phil has remained a wonderful friend and musical comrade on many endeavors over the years. It has truly been a blessing to know Phil and to be invited to experience his musicianship in a wide variety of settings”.

By the spring of 1998, Mitch McVicker was far enough along in his recovery to begin performing again! Michael and Eric Hauck joined Mitch, and after adopting the name Kid Brothers, started some light touring in support of Mitch’s first album. Michael's friendship and working relationship with Mitch is ongoing. The two have collaborated on song writing, production and overall musical direction. One of their collaborative writing efforts appears on Mitch's second CD titled "Chasing the Horizon;" the song "Where Did It Go". Michael was Musical Director for Mitch’s 2007 tour “Love Will Rise”, and Mitch and Michael combined production efforts on Mitch’s 2009 release “Always Believe” recorded at Greenjeans Studio in Wellington, KS with Carter Green.

Other projects Michael has initiated include a one-week intensive percussion workshop held at Friends University titled “Rhythm on the Plains”. Michael founded, taught and composed for this camp high school aged camp from 1996-2007.

Another one of Michael’s projects is the band Appalachian Christmas Quartet. This band of versatile musicians and versatile styles entertained the central Kansas communities for 12 years during the Christmas season from 1997-2008. The Appalachian Christmas Quartet quickly became one of Michael's main creative outlets for performing, arranging and composing. The band used 100+ instruments (and voices) during their one-hour performances. The Appalachian Christmas Quartet has released 4 LP’s. ….”self-titled ”, ….”Gloria”, ….”Coming Home”, ….”Live” – 2 disc release - a CD of live performances along with a DVD compilation of 9 years of performances.

In 2001 Michael made the decision to go back to school. Dr. J.C. Combs, the head of percussion studies at Wichita State University at that time, offered Michael an opportunity to attend WSU for his Masters Degree in Percussion Performance. "Dr. Combs allowed me to be creative and encouraged my extra-curricular performing and production projects. He was gracious in working with my erratic schedule, allowing me the freedom to travel back and forth from Nashville as the opportunities presented themselves.”

Michael completed the master’s degree in just 3 semesters and with the encouragement of Dr. Combs, accepted a Teaching Assistantship at the University of Kentucky in Lexington to work on his Doctorate of Musical Arts. (Click here for his Graduate Recital scrapbook; his final performance project for the Masters degree.) The last piece on this Master recital was one of Michael’s hymn arrangements “Holy, Holy, Holy” for choir, piano and percussion ensemble.

In the spring of 2004, Michael completed all of his course work and comprehensive examinations for his Doctoral work at The University of Kentucky under the direction of renowned percussionist and teacher James Campbell. “Having the opportunity to work with, and around Professor Campbell was truly life-changing. His genuine appreciation for quality work and ability to bring the best out in his students/ensembles is unmatched in any of my previous experiences. To top all of that off, he’s a fun-loving person who cares about the people he works with!”

While at The University of Kentucky, Michael's original compositions began gaining international recognition. Between 2003 and 2009, Michael has published over 30 original works with Drop6 Media, Studio 4 Music, MalletWorks, and C. Alan Publications.

One set of compositions written at this time (not published) is a song cycle for Soprano and percussion. Michael is particularly fond of this song cycle: “The Seasons”. These 6 works depict the cycle of learning.

1. Who We Are
2. Spring
3. Summer
4. Fall
5. Winter
6. I am

One of Michael's on-going projects: composing 14 musical works, each inspired by one of the 14 Stations of the Cross; a traditional Christian prayer and meditation that focuses on the final day of Jesus’ life. Michael has sought the counsel of spiritual advisors to mentor him with each Station, and in 2000 finished the first of these compositions based on the 4th Station. Michael has planned for this project to take 28 years to complete -two years between each composition for personal, spiritual and musical growth. To date, Michael has completed composition on the 4th, 12th, 10th, 6th Stations.

Since June 2004, Michael has been the Director of Music at West Ridge Community Church in Elgin, IL.