ChamberFest Dubuque 2014


NISOM's ChamberFest Dubuque began in 2009 (then Juilliard in June) as an opportunity for the Tri-State area to hear top young performers from across the country. Since that time, it has grown into a festival that also highlights talented musicians right here in Dubuque.

ChamberFest Dubuque 2014 was a smashing success, thanks in no small part to our guest artists, who were hand-picked by NISOM alumnus and ChamberFest Dubuque Artistic Director Michael Gilbertson.

(Pictured left to right) Guitarist Jordan Dodson,  flutist Emi Ferguson, cellist Bridget Pasker, Artistic Director and composer Michael Gilbertson, violinist Francesca Anderegg, pianist David Fung, and percussionist Sean Connors. During their time in our city, they graced two stages for two very different concerts and gave free masterclassses.

The heart of the first concert, the ChamberFest Orchestra Concert on June 16, 2014, was the Dubuque Festival Orchestra.

Orchestra rehearsal day 1, before the soloists arrived

Under the baton of Maestro Nicholas Palmer, the orchestra included past and present NISOM faculty members, former and current NISOM students, members of NISOM's Dubuque Community String  Orchestra and New Horizon Band, past and present members of the Dubuque Symphony Orchestra and Youth Symphony, and other local musicians, with concertmaster Wes Luke. Palmer and orchestra musicians were sponsored by John & Alice Butler, and NISOM's Executive Director Tracey Rush assembled the group specifically for this concert. The orchestra, which can only be seen during ChamberFest Dubuque, began rehearsing together on Saturday for Monday's concert, a true testament to the talent present. Rush herself did triple-duty for this event, also serving as principle violist and composer of one of the concert's pieces. She additionally mentored up-and-coming composer Aaron Fullan (Clinton, Iowa), a former NISOM student, who composed his first orchestral piece Heritage for ChamberFest Dubuque and, with the title, gave a nod to the concert venue: the University of Dubuque's Heritage Center. At this event, sponsored by Tim & Christine Conlon, Gilbertson and friends performed among the orchestra, and each was featured as a soloist.

Orchestra rehearsal day 2, David Fung rehearses his piano solo

Then, on June 19, 2014, the audience was treated to a more intimate concert at Clarke University's Jansen Hall. The original Juilliard in June, this ChamberFest Gala Performance featured only our ChamberFest Dubuque guest musicians (Gilbertson and friends), who demonstrated once again why this is one of Dubuque's most anticipated concerts. They performed everything from a Rachmaninoff piano solo to Harrison’s Varied Trio that included pots and pans among the percussion instruments.       

As a surprise for the audience, Sarah Ellis even provided vocals with the ensemble for the encore. NISOM voice student and Flint-Lindsay Scholarship recipient Kasia Gneiser (pictured below with her parents) also had the opportunity to solo on this concert.

Following the concert, the audience mixed and mingled with the performers during a champagne reception, with beautiful floral arrangements provided by Dobie’s Flowers & Produce and flowing Champagne sponsored by Mystique Casino.

On June 18, 2014, local students had the opportunity to learn from our guest musicians at the ChamberFest Workshop.

The workshop featured a combined session with all our guest artists and masterclasses in guitar, piano, violin, cello, flute, percussion, and composition. Thanks to a sponsorship from Premier Bank, this opportunity was free and open to all. Students were very grateful for this and for the free Orchestra Concert student tickets made possible by an anonymous donor.

The audiences called ChamberFest Dubuque radical, wonderful, fabulous, magnificent, amazing, delightful,  superb, and much more, and according to audience surveys, both concerts rank greater than 9 on a scale of 1 to 10. NISOM thanks all those who helped make these events so successful, especially Gala Performance sponsor US Bank, Orchestra Concert sponsor Tim & Christine Conlon, our ChamberFest committee, Nicholas Palmer, Michael Gilbertson, and all our performers!



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