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, and “genuinely moving” by the Washington Post. Gilbertson holds degrees from The Juilliard School and Yale School of Music, where he studied composition with Samuel Adler, John Corigliano, Christopher Rouse, Aaron Jay Kernis, Martin Bresnick, Ezra Laderman, Hannah Lash, and Christopher Theofanidis. Gilbertson’s works have been programmed by ensembles including the Minnesota Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony, Washington National Opera, San Francisco Chamber Orchestra, Grand Rapids Symphony, Symphony in C, New England Philharmonic, Cheyenne Symphony, Juilliard Orchestra, Yale Philharmonia, Sioux City Symphony, Cedar Rapids Symphony, Dubuque Symphony, Michigan Philharmonic, Rockford Symphony, Lafayette Symphony, Waterloo-Cedar Falls Symphony, Aspen Contemporary Ensemble , and professional choirs including Musica Sacra, The Crossing, and The Esoterics. In March, 2016, he was MusicalAmerica’s Artist of the Month.
Gilbertson’s music has earned five Morton Gould Awards from ASCAP, a Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a BMI Student Composer Award, and the 2007-08 Palmer-Dixon Prize, awarded by the Juilliard composition faculty for the best student work of the year. His piano trio Fold by Fold received the Israel Prize from the Society for New Music. 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.
Gilbertson’s opera Breaking, a collaboration with playwright Caroline McGraw, was commissioned by the Washington National Opera and premiered at The Kennedy Center as part of their American Opera Initiative in November, 2013. He has twice composed and conducted ballets for the New York Choreographic Institute, working with choreographers David Morse and Daniel Baker. His fifth ballet, a collaboration with choreographer Norbert De La Cruz, was premiered by the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet in July, 2013. Gilbertson’s other upcoming projects include commissions for Sybarite5 and Red Cedar Chamber Music, for which Michael has served as Composer-in-Residence since 2011. He has enjoyed an ongoing relationship with his hometown orchestra, the Dubuque Symphony, which has performed 7 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 a lecturer at the Yale School of Music.
Photo: Ron Cohen Mann