A native of North Dakota, Michael Halstenson studied music performance and composition at the University of North Dakota, Webster College in St. Louis and the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis with composers Dominick Argento, Paul Fetler, Eric Stokes, Alex Lubet, Leigh Gerdine and William Boehle. His works have been performed by the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, University of Minnesota Opera Theater, St. Olaf Band, Appleton Symphony, Minnesota All-State Band, Lake Wobegon Brass Band and others, and have had performances in Carnegie Hall, Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center and Tampere Hall, Finland. Halstenson's "Winter Trilogy" has been broadcast over Minnesota Public Radio in several St. Paul Chamber Orchestra programs.
Halstenson was the Director of Orchestras at Anoka High School from 1996-2018, where his duties included concert orchestras, a chamber orchestra and serving as music director for the Anoka theater department. He is conductor of the Lake Wobegon Brass Band and has served as conductor of the Buffalo (MN) Symphony, St. Cloud Symphony, Anoka-Hennepin Honors Orchestra, North Suburban Band and Chorale.