In 2009, Michael Gilbertson - a young man from Dubuque who has become one of America's leading composers - wanted to raise funds for his alma mater, the Northeast Iowa School of Music. He invited some fellow Juilliard students to come to his hometown for a benefit concert - and it was such a hit that it gave rise to an annual two-week event called ChamberFest Dubuque. This year's Fest brings two weeks of concerts, outreach, and education - and its grand finale is a gala chamber concert Thursday night at Clarke University's Jansen Hall. It's definitely worth the trip to Dubuque - and we have proof!
On Monday, a few musicians from the festival came with Michael to our studio to give a live preview concert. First, violist Hari Bernstein (a member of the Nashville Symphony Orchestra) played a Bach prelude. Then came some Bach from pianist Sean Chen, who in 2013 became the first American finalist at the Van Cliburn Competition since 1997 - and as of last week, one of five winners of the even-more prestigious Lenore Annenberg Career Fellowship. Chen is also a composer, and he played his own transcription of an Andante from a Bach violin sonata. Finally, Chen and cellist Madeleine Kabat (who has won several awards and soloed with the Cleveland Orchestra) performed a Schubert excerpt. Listen to their session by clicking on the arrow below: