Lucas Artists Fellow

  • RESIDENCY DATES : Sep 2nd 2013 to Sep 22nd 2013 | Jul 31st 2015 to Aug 30th 2015 | Sep 5th 2017 to Sep 29th 2017
  • PRACTICE : Composer
  • FROM : USA

Joel has always been drawn to a diverse range of musical activities. He grew up playing trumpet and electric bass in jazz and rock bands, French horn and trumpet in orchestras, and performed in musicals.  Not surprisingly, Joel’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, chorus and voice, 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 heard in venues from Carnegie Hall (his Viola Concerto - praised by the New Yorker as “beautiful and intelligent”), the Kennedy Center, Joe’s Pub, and the 92nd St. Y, to theaters Off-Broadway and the London West End (Personals, which he co-authored), and various film festivals (his film score for a full-length supernatural thriller, Red Ice).

His work has been performed by a range of gifted artists including violist Paul Neubauer, soprano Susan Narucki, pianists Alan Feinberg and Stephen Gosling, cellists Fred Sherry and Joshua Roman, conductors Jorge Mester and Angel Gil-Ordóñez, the Adorno and New York Chamber Ensembles, the New Jersey Chamber Music Society, actor Jason Alexander, choreographer Sally Hess, and the casts of theater productions by director John Greenleaf (as part of the NEA Shakespeare in American Communities Program). 

Current projects spotlight the range of Joel’s work: commissions for string orchestra from the San Jose Chamber Orchestra/Takoma Ensemble/SONYC, Meditations a new work for chorus and solo cello from Georgetown University, and the 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 was commissioned by the New Orchestra of Washington (Alejandro Hernandez-Valdez, conductor) and will be premiered and recorded this fall.

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. He 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 Symphonic Explorations for the Baltimore Symphony/Levine Music.

His works are recorded on the Jay, Crystal, and Americus labels, and published by Samuel French and Grey Bird Music.  He 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