The works of Michael Gilbertson have been described as “elegant” and “particularly beautiful” by The New York Times, “vivid, tightly woven” and “delectably subtle” by the Baltimore Sun, “genuinely moving” by the Washington Post, and “a compelling fusion of new and ancient” by the Philadelphia Inquirer. Gilbertson is the BMI Composer in Residence with the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra and is a professor at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. He was a finalist for the 2018 Pulitzer Prize in Music for his Quartet.
Gilbertson holds degrees from The Juilliard School, where he studied composition with Samuel Adler, John Corigliano, and Christopher Rouse, and from Yale where he studied with Aaron Jay Kernis, Martin Bresnick, David Lang, Ezra Laderman, Hannah Lash, Christopher Theofanidis, and Jeanine Tesori. His works have been programmed by orchestras including the Minnesota Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony, Washington National Opera, Albany Symphony, San Francisco Chamber Orchestra, Grand Rapids Symphony, River Oaks Chamber Orchestra, Symphony in C, New England Philharmonic, Cheyenne Symphony, wind ensembles including The United States Marine Band, and professional choirs including Musica Sacra, The Crossing, and The Esoterics. His chamber works have been performed by the Verona Quartet, Akropolis Quintet, Sybarite5, SOLI Chamber Ensemble, the Copland House Ensemble, and Aspen Contemporary Ensemble.
Gilbertson’s music has earned five Morton Gould Awards from ASCAP, a Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and a BMI Student Composer Award. Gilbertson’s music can be heard in the 2006 documentary Rehearsing a Dream, which was nominated for an Academy Award. His published music includes choral works with Boosey & Hawkes and G. Schirmer, and orchestral works with Theodore Presser. In March, 2016, he was MusicalAmerica Magazine’s featured Artist of the Month.
Gilbertson’s opera Breaking, a collaboration with playwright Caroline McGraw, was commissioned by the Washington National Opera and premiered at The Kennedy Center in November, 2013. He has twice composed and conducted ballets for the New York City Ballet’s Choreographic Institute. His fifth ballet, a collaboration with choreographer Norbert De La Cruz, was premiered by the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet in July, 2013. He served as Red Cedar Chamber Music’s Composer-in-Residence from 2011 to 2014, and has enjoyed an ongoing relationship with his hometown orchestra, the Dubuque Symphony, which has performed 8 of his works since 2003.
In 2009, Michael founded an annual music festival, ChamberFest Dubuque, which brings young classical artists to his hometown of Dubuque, Iowa for concerts and educational outreach. The festival is a fundraiser for the Northeast Iowa School of Music, where Michael taught composition and music history during their summer session from 2008 to 2012. He has also taught at The Walden School, The Educational Center for the Arts, and as an instructor and lecturer at Yale. He serves on the board of directors for the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players.
Photo: Christina Simpson