Dr. Michael Elsbernd

Title: Lecturer of Music
Dept.: Music

Michael Elsbernd is Director of Worship and Music at St. John's Lutheran Church (ELCA) in Des Moines, Iowa, where he conducts the Cathedral Choir, String Scholars, and serves as principal organist. A graduate of Luther College, Elsbernd earned a Master of Music Degree from Westminster Choir College of Rider University and completed his Doctor of Musical Arts Degree at the University of Michigan. He was inducted into Pi Kappa Lambda (National Music Honor Society) in 1999 and was awarded a grant from the Theodore Presser Foundation in 2001, upon the recommendation of the Faculty Council for Graduate Studies at the University of Michigan. The Presser Foundation grant funded Elsbernd's dissertation project on the music of Jan Adam Reincken. His principal teachers include William Kuhlman, Eugene Roan, James Kibbie, and Marilyn Mason. Additional studies were completed with Harald Vogel at the North German Organ Academy. Elsbernd has served terms as Repertoire and Standards Chair for the South Dakota ACDA, District Convener and Chapter Dean for the South Dakota Chapter of the American Guild of Organists (AGO), and is currently member-at-large of the Central Iowa Chapter AGO board. He has made concert appearances with Boston Brass, Winnipeg Philharmonic Choir, Michigan Sinfonietta Orchestra, and the choirs of South Dakota State University. He has three hymn-based compositions published by Alliance Publications, Inc. Elsbernd resides in Waukee, Iowa, with his wife, Nichole Colsch, and their two children, Ethan and Abigail.

Academic History

  • B.A. Luther College, Decorah, Iowa
  • M.M. (Master of Music), Westminster Choir College, Princeton, New Jersey
  • D.M.A. (Doctor of Musical Arts), University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Start Date at Grand View

  • August 2017

Areas of Expertise

  • Organ
  • Harpsichord
  • Choral Conducting
  • Church Music

Research / Accomplishments

  • Guest choral conductor for Royal School of Church Music (RSCM) affiliate choir school at First Presbyterian Church, Evansville, Indiana, April 2018
  • Guest recitalist (solo harpsichord) for the 2017-18 visiting artist series for the Arts Council of Southwestern Indiana.

Personal Interests

  • French organ music from the 19-20th centuries
  • Music of J.S. Bach
  • Home improvement projects
  • Vegetable gardening (heirloom seeds)
  • Reading

Questions & Answers

What makes Grand View unique among other universities?
Grand View University offers its students access to an impressive array of opportunities to connect theory (classroom) with practice (internships, etc.).
What is your favorite part about working at Grand View?
My favorite part about working at Grand View is interacting with students and collaborating with faculty colleagues. 

Student Testimonials

  • "Dr. Elsbernd has helped give me the confidence needed to play the organ for service playing, and always is able to find something positive, even if I had felt I had terribly messed up." - Colby Gochanour
Michael Elsbernd