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Joel Phillip Friedman

Washington, DC         

Composer Joel Phillip Friedman’s natural creative impulse is to work across genres, and to compose music that is equally informed by his classical training and his engagement with the vernacular. His varied portfolio includes work for small and large ensembles, musical theater, opera, dance, film, jazz, and rock. New collaborations, teaching activities and projects continually refresh Joel’s thinking and writing.

Joel’s music has been performed by gifted musicians and ensembles including: Paul Neubauer and Teng Li, viola; Susan Narucki, soprano; pianists Alan Feinberg, Stephen Gosling, and Evelyne Luest; cellists Joshua Roman and Fred Sherry; Jason Alexander, actor/singer; conductors Barbara Day Turner, Jorge Mester, Alejandro Hernandez-Valdez, and Angel Gil-Ordóñez; Speculum Musicae, the National Orchestral Association, the New York Chamber Ensemble, the New Orchestra of Washington, and the San José Chamber Orchestra. And it has been heard in venues from Carnegie Hall (his Viola Concerto - praised by the New Yorker as “beautiful and intelligent”) and the Kennedy Center, Bargemusic, National Sawdust, Joe’s Pub and the 92nd St. Y, to theaters Off-Broadway and the London West End (Personals, which he co-authored), and in his film score for a full-length supernatural thriller, Red Ice (featured at SF IndieFest and the Chicago Horror film festivals).

Current projects spotlight the range of Joel’s work: commissions for mezzo-soprano Jacqueline Horner-Kwaitak and viol da gambist Elizabeth Weinfield (Continuance); the string orchestra piece Movable Home for a consortium of San Jose Chamber Orchestra/Takoma Ensemble/SONYC; Meditations: Ubi caritas – Locus iste for mixed choir in 3 sections and solo cello, which has been commissionedFrederick Binkholder and the Georgetown University Chamber Singers; and the 2013 Irving M. Klein International String Competition; Fallings, an experimental chamber music theater piece; and The Emily Songs his recent electro-acoustic rock settings of Emily Dickinson’s poetry. His new orchestration of Elastic Band, commissioned by the New Orchestra of Washington, was just premiered and is forthcoming on the Acis label.

Mirroring his diverse compositional projects, Joel teaches a range of university courses in composition, theory/analysis, and history, and has originated courses on The Beatles, History of Rock and Jazz, and Musical Theater. Joel is Visiting Associate Professor at Georgetown University and has been on faculty at Swarthmore College, as well as Notre Dame de Namur, Santa Clara, Stanford (Continuing Studies), and Seton Hall Universities. He is a sought after speaker on music, hosting Classical Saturdays for the Baltimore Symphony/Levine Music and panel discussions/talks in the D.C. area. Joel received his Mus. B and MM from Boston University, and his DMA from Columbia University, where he was a President’s Fellow and Mellon Scholar. His works are available on the Jay, Crystal, Acis, and Americus labels, and published by Samuel French and Grey Bird Music. Joel now lives in Washington DC with his wife Jenny Bilfield, their daughter Hallie, parrots extraordinaire Percy and Heathcliff, and Sugar Lucille (Dog Of Wonder). For more information see

Articles by Joel Phillip Friedman:

Articles May 10 2017 | By Joel Phillip Friedman
Speak Now: D.C. Dispatch—Arts in the Time of Trump

While “federal government” is abstract in many parts of the country, here in D.C. it is very real. It is people and lives, flesh and blood. We know people working...