Michael Gilbertson studied composition with Samuel Adler, John Corigliano, and Christopher Rouse at The Juilliard School, and at the Yale School of Music with Aaron Jay Kernis, Martin Bresnick, Ezra Laderman and Christopher Theofanidis. Gilbertson’s works have been programmed by ensembles including The Juilliard Orchestra, the Washington National Opera, the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra, the Grand Rapids Symphony, the Symphony in C, the New England Philharmonic, the Cheyenne Symphony, the Yale Philharmonia, the Cedar Rapids Symphony, the Michigan Philharmonic, the Flint Symphony, the Rockford Symphony, the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Symphony, Musica Sacra, 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, 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 a 10-year 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 (New Haven), and at the Yale School of Music.