Gilbertson Gives Back


It all started in 2009. Dubuque native Michael Gilbertson was a composition student at the prestigious Juilliard School of Music. Gilbertson had begun his composition training years earlier at the nonprofit Northeast Iowa School of Music (NISOM) in Dubuque and wanted to give back to the school. He approached Tracey Rush, NISOM’s executive director and his first composition teacher, about a benefit concert featuring his friends from Juilliard, which became the ChamberFest Dubuque Gala Concert. The concert in 2009 sold out weeks in advance, enthralled the audience, and helped NISOM provide music instruction.

Flashback to the original Juilliard in June in 2009

Today, Gilbertson is completing a doctoral degree at Yale, and his works have been performed across the country. His most recent work, a string quartet for the Verona Quartet, was premiered at Carnegie Hall in February, 2017.

Despite his success, Gilbertson returns every June with a new small ensemble of highly-trained musicians. Like Gilbertson, these guest artists enjoy distinguished solo careers, but they only perform together in Dubuque.

This June you can experience Gilbertson and friends perform the intimate ChamberFest Dubuque Gala Concert on Thursday, June 15 at 7PM in Clarke University’s Jansen Hall, sponsored by US Bank. You can expect to hear solos and small ensembles with musical styles ranging from classical to modern, all highlighting the virtuosity of this year's guest artists. After the concert, mix and mingle with the performers during a champagne and dessert reception. Tickets are available now at NISOM, or order online now

Hear one of Dubuque’s most in-demand musical events, while your ticket purchase supports local music. Proceeds from ChamberFest Dubuque continue NISOM’s mission to provide quality, affordable music education and enrichment. The event helps the nonprofit organization provide lessons and classes to students of all ages and economic backgrounds, non-auditioned adult performance ensembles, free and low-cost music programs in downtown Dubuque, and free community concerts. NISOM believes that life and health are enriched by music and that everyone deserves this opportunity.

Joining Gilbertson this year are cellist Bridget Pasker, a fellow Dubuque native and Juilliard alumna; pianist Sean Chen, who took the crystal award in the prestigious Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in 2013; violinist Elizabeth Fayette, who has been praised by the New York Times for her “alluring, lustrous sound and seasoned virtuosity;” guitarist  Jiji Kim, who recently won the highly-coveted first prize in the 2016 Concert Artists Guild International Competition; and percussionist Mari Yoshinaga, who has performed, lectured, coached, and taught in Asia, Europe and the United States. Learn more about their impressive creditials at ChamberFest Dubuque.

Gilbertson leads rehearsal in 2012 

While in Dubuque, the guest artists will lead a free student workshop on Wednesday, June 14 at Loras College at 5:30 PM. At the ChamberFest Dubuque Workshop local musicians of all ages will have the opportunity to work with and learn from the performers. The workshop is no cost to participants thanks to grant support from the Iowa Arts Council, a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, and the National Endowment for the Arts, and from the James B. and Melita A. McDonough Foundation.

Gilbertson gives back year after year because he knows the impact NISOM has in Dubuque. He says, “The guest artists for this year's ChamberFest program include some of the top classical artists of my generation. Without NISOM, where I first began composition lessons when I was 14, I would never have pursued the career that has given me the opportunity to work with artists of this caliber. It is always a wonderful experience to perform with them to support NISOM and music education in Dubuque.”

ChamberFest Dubuque 2016 Gala performers


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