Joseph Turrin is a greatly valued contributor to contemporary American musical life thanks to his wide-ranging activities as a composer, orchestrator, conductor, pianist, and teacher.
He studied composition at the Eastman School of Music and the Manhattan School of Music, and has pursued a career that has always been multifaceted. As a composer, he has produced works in many genres. Among the many commissioned works in his catalogue, highlights include Hemispheres commissioned for Kurt Masur's final concert with the New York Philharmonic in May 2002 and taken on tour by Masur and the orchestra to Europe and Asia in June 2002. His concertos for flute (commissioned for Carol Wincenc and the New Jersey Symphony) and for trumpet (the latter commissioned by the New York Philharmonic for Philip Smith, its principal trumpet, and conducted at its 1989 premiere by Erich Leinsdorf), the chamber works Riffs and Fanfares (Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center), And Crimson Roses Once Again Be Fair - a Cantata based on poetry from WW1, commissioned by Musica Viva NY (Renee Fleming - Artistic Advisor), Washington Master Chorale, and the New Orchestra of Washington,Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis (commissioned by the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in New York), Arcade (New Jersey Chamber Music Society), Quadrille (West Point Military Academy), Sounding of the Call for trumpet and wind symphony (ITG - International Trumpet Guild), Concertino for 11 soloists and wind symphony (National Endowment on the Arts), Chronicles (twelve American Universities for Philip Smith), Modinha (Orpheus Chamber Orchestra) and numerous other commissions. The New York Philharmonic, both as an ensemble and through several of its individual members, has cultivated a longstanding relationship with Turrin. In addition to Hemispheres and the Trumpet Concerto (which Kurt Masur has also led with the Gewandhaus Orchestra in Leipzig), the Philharmonic-commissioned Two Gershwin Portraits (which Mr. Masur and the Orchestra premiered at the "New York 100 Celebration Concert" in Central Park in 1998, with trumpet soloists Wynton Marsalis and Philip Smith), Turrin has composed several pieces for the Orchestra's brass section, including Jazzalogue No. 1 (featured on the Orchestra's 1997 Latin American tour) and West Side Story Suite (commissioned by the New York Philharmonic and Carnegie Hall and premiered at Carnegie Hall in 2000 by the Philharmonic's brass section). In addition, he has composed numerous solo and chamber works to spotlight the talents of several Philharmonic musicians. His Trombone Concerto Illuminations was premieried and later recorded by Joseph Alessi for Summit Records. His Fandango for trumpet, trombone and wind symphony was performed on "Live from Lincoln Center" in July 2002 by Kurt Masur and the NY Philharmonic and hosted by Beverly Sills. He is also a regular composer for the New York Philharmonics popular Holiday Brass series at Avery Fisher Hall with the Canadian Brass and the NY Philharmonic Principal Brass. As part of this series in 2007 he composed and conducted the premiere of his work The Fir Tree narrated by Bob McGrath from Sesame Street. He has also collaborated with Ann Druyan on a work for voice and chamber orchestra titled That Thing, which makes the vastness bearable. Turrin wrote Three Sara Teasdale Songs for Thomas Hampson, which can be found on the Hampson website, Songs of America. His opera, The Scarecrow, was commissioned by a consortium of twelve universities and had its premiere at the University of Texas at Austin where Mr. Turrin was Composer in Residence in 2006. In 2007, The Scarecrow was selected as a finalist both by the American Academy of Arts and Letters Richard Rodgers Committee and the National Opera Association, which selected the opera a second time in 2017.
Active as a composer, and conductor for film and theatre, Turrin lists among his many credits the scores for Alan Alda's film A New Life, Little Darlings, Weeds (with Nick Nolte), Tough Guys Don't Dance (Directed by Norman Mailer), Verna-USO Girl (with Sissy Spacek and William Hurt and nominated for 3 Emmy Awards), Nightmare on Elm Street 3, Kingdom of Shadows (narrated by Rod Steiger), Broken Blossoms (1919 silent film classic directed by D.W. Griffith, starring Lillian Gish) and for the restoration of the silent film classic Sadie Thompson. Other silent film classics that he has scored include, Diary of a Lost Girl, Intolerance and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. His work in musical theater includes performances on Broadway with Michael Feinstein at both the Booth and Lyceum theaters as well as the score for Frankie, with a libretto by Broadway legend George Abbott (produced Off-Broadway at the York Theater). Other theater works by Turrin include the opera The Scarecrow, Love Games and The Barricade. He also did the orchestrations for the 1992 Olympic Fanfare for the summer Olympic ceremonies in Barcelona, Spain. Several of his films and recording projects have been nominated for Emmy and Grammy Awards.
Turrin has appeared as a conductor with the Pittsburgh, Baltimore, New Orleans, Detroit, and New Jersey Symphonies; he has performed as a pianist on many recordings and as orchestral pianist for the New Jersey Symphony. He has received awards and grants from the National Endowment on the Arts (2011), United Nations (for contributions in the arts), ASCAP, American Music Center, first prize in the 2004 National Band Association's William Revelli Composition Contest, and Seven Fellowships from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. In addition to the Ann M. Alburger Award for Chamber Music, in 2006 he was awarded an honorary degree from the Eastman school of Music and the University of Rochester. He is currently on the music faculty of Rutgers University, Montclair State University and Kean University. His past faculty appointments include the Hartt School, William Paterson University and Ramapo University.
His works have been written for and performed by the New York Philharmonic, St. Martin-in-the-Fields Academy Orchestra, Yo Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble, Renee Fleming, Thomas Hampson, Sumi Jo, Lincoln Center Chamber Music Society, BBC Concert Orchestra, Canadian Brass, Ann Sophie Mutter, Baltimore Symphony, Gewandhausorchester (Leipzig, Germany), Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, New Orleans Symphony, New Mexico Symphony, New Jersey Symphony, English Chamber Orchestra, Little Orchestra Society of New York, Nashville Symphony, Richmond Symphony, Wynton Marsalis, Philip Smith, Joseph Alessi, Lew Soloff, Carol Wincenc, Alison Balsom, Ramon Vargas, Evelyn Glennie, Susannah McCorkle, Michael Feinstein, Harvey Phillips, New York Philharmonic Principal Brass, US Army Band, US Air Force Band, The President's Own United States Marine Band, US Navy Band, US Army Brass Quintet, Atlantic Brass Quintet, New Jersey Chamber Music Society, West Point Military Academy Band, Eastman Wind Ensemble, Imperial Brass, University of North Texas Wind Symphony, University of Notre Dame Band, Washington Master Chorale, Cathedral of Saint John the Divine Choir, New York City Master Chorale and others. His works have been conducted by Kurt Masur, Erich Leinsdorf, Bram Tovey, George Manahan, Hugh Wolf and others.
His publishers include: Theodore Presser, Edition Peters, Boosey and Hawkes, Schimer Music, Curnow Music, BIM Editions (Switzerland), Kjos Publications, Winwood Music (England), Paramount Pictures, Alfred Music, Subito Music, Schott Music, Obrasso Verlag (Switzerland), Studio Music (England), Paraclete Press, Salvation Army (USA East Music Department) and C. Alan Publications. His works are recorded on the Teldec, RCA, EMI, Naxos, Cala Records, Summit, Albany, Klavier, MSR Classics, Crystal, Longhorn Music (University of Texas at Austin) and Curnow labels. Turrin is also the author of Music in Film: Settling the Score a textbook published by Cognella Press in San Diego, CA.
What the NY Times said about his work Hemispheres: " Mr. Turrin's music is nervous, loud, swift and aggressive to the point of violence. It is also beautifully made, negotiating its constant changes of speed and pulse with grace. Mr. Turrin's music is young: no past, only future. "
Kurt Masur said about Mr. Turrin's music: "I have always liked composers who are reflecting upon the musical sound of their country. Joseph Turrin does it in a very convincing way. I have taken great delight from getting to know his scores, which I have conducted in New York, in Europe, and in Asia."