For musical director and musical designer Kevin Antunes, AS’96, working on two Michael Jackson-inspired spectacles—Cirque du Soleil’s Michael Jackson ONE and Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour—has been a crowning achievement in a booming career.
For the Cirque shows, Antunes redesigned and remixed the late singer’s iconic songs by using his original master recordings, which Jackson’s estate keeps in a vault.
“I’m a lifelong fan, so it was an honor to listen to Michael’s original recordings,” says Antunes, who dressed like his idol as a teen growing up in New Bedford, Mass. “It was a challenge to reimagine something new from Michael’s legendary music catalog.”
Channeling the “King of Pop” isn’t Antunes’ only collaboration with music royalty. He also works with the queen of pop, serving as Madonna’s musical director and keyboard player.
Most recently, he performed in and mixed the DVD audio for Madonna’s blockbuster MDNA Tour. He also served as musical designer for her record-breaking 2012 Super Bowl halftime show and toured with her Sticky and Sweet World Tour, which until recently held the record as the top-selling tour of all time for a solo artist.
“Madonna has redefined the music business by creating meaningful musical art,” he says. “She will work countless hours to get every detail right. She personally selects her creative team and continually inspires everyone around her.”
Antunes, too, is among the top in the industry. His resumé boasts numerous Hall of Famers, including Justin Timberlake, Rihanna, Coldplay, Taylor Swift, Timbaland, Janet Jackson, Backstreet Boys, and Aerosmith, just to name a few.
Antunes began his music career by touring with Boston’s own New Kids on the Block, and then earned his BS in music industry from Northeastern in 1996. He credits much of his success to Northeastern’s requirement for a balanced education, which helped him with the management side of the business.
“Madonna draws from every artistic genre and channels it into her shows,” he says. “I credit Northeastern for a range of electives. That breadth of knowledge has been the foundation for every one of my live concert productions.”