Trumpet Concerto

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            Gilbertson is a native of Dubuque, Iowa, who at the age of thirty is fast developing a reputation of one America’s most respected and successful young composers.  Active as a composer while still a youth in high school, his relationship with the local symphony provided him with ample opportunities to hear and learn from the realizations of his musical imagination.  This led to a portfolio of works that took him to the Juilliard School in New York, and then on to Yale University.   His composition teachers at those august institutions include such luminaries as John Corigliano, Samuel Adler, Christopher Rouse, and Christopher Theofanidis—all of whom are leading contemporary American composers, familiar to symphony audiences.

            There is no dearth of institutions that understand the importance of recognizing and supporting the work of young composers, and accordingly the best of the latter garner awards as they mature, and Gilbertson is no exception.  Among the many that he has received are those from the BMI Student Composer Awards, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and five Morton Gould Awards from ASCAP, to just name a few.  But, actually receiving support in the form of commissions is far more important, and there, Gilbertson has done very well, indeed.  Performances are the lifeblood of composers, and Gilbertson’s works have been performed by, among others, the Pittsburgh Symphony, the Minnesota Orchestra, the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra, and the Washington National Opera. 

            While actively composing in a variety of musical genres, he has focused on orchestra and choral music.  The former genre exhibits a solid mastery of handling the sound resources of the orchestra, with considerable imagination in orchestration always in the fore.  His music tends to be tense and dramatic, often carried along by motoric rhythm and “spikey” accents.  And, like so many of his generation, he is often inspired by the music and other cultural artifacts of times past.  His remarks about his trumpet concerto reveal his recognition of the varied musical capabilities of the instrument.  It is replete with fanfares, and inspiration from the great Renaissance composer, Giovanni Gabrieli.   The lyrical middle movement is a crepuscular exploration of jazz-based lyricism, and the last movement is a fast ride in a Russian troika—inspired by Prokofiev’s depiction of the same.

--Wm. E. Runyan

© 2017 William E. Runyan