Michael Gerdes

headshot of Michael Gerdes

Associate Professor of Music
Director of Orchestras
Music Director - Opera Theater



Primary Email: [email protected]


Primary Phone: 619-594-4681


Music - 222


Michael Gerdes is the Director of Orchestras at San Diego State University where he conducts the San Diego State Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra, and Opera Orchestra. His performances with the San Diego State Symphony have been hailed as “highly sensitive and thoughtfully layered” and his conducting proclaimed “refined, dynamically nuanced” and “restrained but unmistakably lucid” by the San Diego Story.  The premiere of Suite Noir by the San Diego Symphony received a “Bravo” award as one of the six significant musical events in San Diego during 2015.  Gerdes is serving in his second season as Assistant Conductor for the La Jolla Symphony and will make his subscription concert debut in 2017.  Selected by the San Diego Union Tribune as one of three “Faces to Watch” in Classical Music during his first year as Director of Orchestras, professor Gerdes is focused on creating a thriving orchestral community at San Diego State University.

Mr. Gerdes maintains an active calendar as a guest conductor, most recently working with the Bacau Philharmonic and The Moldova Philharmonic Choir of Iasi along with honor orchestras of Alpine Valley, Grossmont Union, The California Music Educator’s Association, Southern California Band and Orchestra Directors Association All-Southern Middle School Orchestra, San Diego Unified, and Sweetwater Union.  Prof. Gerdes serves as an executive of the Los Angeles Conducting Institute, President of the San Diego Pro Arte Voices board, and a member of the New West Electronic Arts & Music Organization Board.  This summer he will serve as Director of Orchestras for the Bravo International Music Academy and the San Diego Summer Music Institute.

Passionate about commissioning and performing music by living composers, Mr. Gerdes has conducted world premieres by composers such as John Hilliard, Liviu Marinescu, Joseph Waters, Brent Dutton, Russell Peterson, Richard Meyer, and Richard Thompson.  His ensemble performs the music of student composers at San Diego State each semester.  His programming this season at SDSU has included works by esteemed SDSU faculty and student composers.

He earned his Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education and Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota. He also holds a Master’s degree in Orchestral Conducting from James Madison University. Mr. Gerdes has studied conducting with Dr. Robert McCashin, Dr. Russell Pesola, Mr. Bruce Houglum, Dr. René Clausen, Dr. Samuel Jones, Kenneth Kiesler, and Gerard Schwarz. As an orchestral musician, he has performed with the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra, the Waynesboro Symphony, and the Interlochen Center for the Arts Faculty/Staff Orchestra.


  • MM, James Madison University
  • BM, Music Education, cum laude, Concordia College
  • BA, Philosophy, Concordia College