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Encyclopedia Dubuque


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GILBERTSON, Michael. (Dubuque, IA-- ). In 2010 Gilbertson, a 2006 graduate of STEPHEN HEMPSTEAD HIGH SCHOOL, graduated from The Juilliard School, the prestigious New York City school of music. His notable teachers have included Samuel Adler, John Corigliano, Christopher Rouse, George Tsontakis, Robert X. Rodriguez, and Michel Merlet. (1) In addition to studies at Juilliard, Michael was a student at Columbia University, where his areas of academic interest included Philosophy of History and Intellectual History.

Gilbertson’s works have been performed by ensembles including The Juilliard Orchestra, San Francisco Chamber Orchestra, Grand Rapids Symphony, Cedar Rapids Symphony, Dubuque Symphony, Flint Symphony, Rockford Symphony, Waterloo-Cedar Falls Symphony, Galesburg Symphony, and Aspen Contemporary Ensemble. His commissioned works have premiered at many notable venues including the Klementinum in Prague and at Carnegie Hall in New York City. His 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 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. (2)

Gilbertson’s music has earned wide recognition. He received five Morton Gould Awards from ASCAP and a major scholarship from the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts in 2006. In May, 2009, Gilbertson was the youngest artist to be honored by the American Academy of Arts and Letters which awarded him a Charles Ives Scholarship. His work, titled Vigil, was named the recipient of the 2007-08 Palmer-Dixon Prize, awarded by the Juilliard composition faculty for the "most outstanding" work composed by a student during the year. His music has been heard on WQXR’s Young Artists’ Showcase, and a 2006 performance of his Hodie by the Anderson University Orchestra and Chorus was televised nationally on PBS stations and internationally on EWTN. His music can be heard in the 2006 documentary Rehearsing a Dream. He also received a BMI Student Composer Award, BMI's Boudleaux Bryant Commission and the Israel Prize from the Society of New Music. (3)

Gilbertson’s orchestral pops works are published by Robert Wendel Music in New York. His published music includes choral works with Boosey & Hawkes/Hendon Music, ESC, G. Schirmer/AMP, and orchestral works with Theodore Presser. (3) Promotion, commissions, rentals and sales for Gilbertson in 2019 were handled by Black Tea Music. (4)

In June, 2009 Gilbertson organized Julliard in June, a special chamber music concert, to raise money for the NORTHEAST IOWA SCHOOL OF MUSIC which he attended. An encore performance was held in 2010. In 2011 the event featured the performance of Gilbertson's most recent ballet, originally titled "Ballet for David,' which was commissioned and premiered by the New York Choreographic Institute in 2011.

Gilbertson was designated a MusicalAmerica's Magazine "New Artist of the Month" in 2016. (5) In 2018 he was one of the youngest finalists ever considered for the Pulitzer Prize of Music for his Quartet. In 2019 he was a BMI composer-in-residence with the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra and a professor at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Gilbertson 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. He returned each summer to direct Chamberfest Dubuque, a fundraiser he founded in 2009 for NISOM. Between 2003 and 2009 he composed eight commissions for the DUBUQUE SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA. (6)



1. "Michael Gilbertson," Biography, Online: http://michaelgilbertson.net/?page_id=2

2. Ibid.

3. Gloss, Megan, "Leading Lights of Music," "The Arts in the Tri-States," (special publication) Telegraph Herald, May 23, 2019, p. 34

4. "Michael Gilbertson," Black Tea Music, Online: https://www.blackteamusic.com/artists/michael-gilbertson/

5. "Michael Gilbertson..."

6. Gloss