Joshua Shank

Joshua Shank’s works have been widely performed by educational and professional ensembles alike. His music has been called “jubilant…ethereal” (Santa Barbara News-Press) and “evocative and atmospheric” (Gramophone). The Boston Classical Review called his Magnificat for the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo “powerful” and “emotionally charged.”

He has been commissioned by some of the most exciting choral ensembles in the United States as well as abroad and has collaborated with organizations such as Conspirare, the Young New Yorkers’ Chorus, the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, the American Choral Directors Association, The Esoterics, the Minnesota All-State Choir, and the Lorelei Ensemble (Boston). From 2004 to 2014 he served as Composer-In-Residence for the Minneapolis-based professional choir, The Singers: Minnesota Choral Artists, and alongside Artistic Director Matthew Culloton and fellow composers Abbie Betinis and Jocelyn Hagen, collaborated annually to expand and invigorate the repertoire for professional-caliber ensembles through innovative programming as well as new works written specifically for the ensemble.

Joshua received his undergraduate degree in Vocal Music Education from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa where he studied conducting with Weston Noble and composition with John Morrison and Neil Flory. In 2002, he became the youngest composer ever awarded the Raymond W. Brock Composition Award by the American Choral Directors Association. The winning piece, “Musica animam tangens” (written at the age of 20), was premiered at the 2003 ACDA National Convention in Avery Fisher Hall at the Lincoln Center and has since been performed and recorded from Los Angeles to South Africa.

His music was recently featured in a documentary about the extensive choral tradition in the Upper Midwest, Never Stop Singing, and his best-selling choral work, “The Boy Who Picked Up His Feet to Fly,” was featured in the book Choral Charisma by Tom Carter. His published works for choir, band, and solo voice have sold over 100,000 copies worldwide and are available through Santa Barbara Music Publishing, Alliance, G. Schirmer, Graphite, Hal Leonard and Daehn Publications.

In recent years, Joshua has enjoyed writing program notes for various ensembles and composers around the US. In 2008 he received a grant from the Minnesota Sesquicentennial Commission to write for a choral celebration of the state’s 150th anniversary, and three years later he was engaged to write an essay for The Singers for their presentation of Jocelyn Hagen’s evening-length oratorio, amass. Most recently he collaborated with the Austin-based professional choir, Conspirare, to write extensive notes for their album of Samuel Barber’s choral music released by the Harmonia Mundi label.

A native of Minnesota, he currently lives in the Windsor Park neighborhood of Austin where he is pursuing doctoral studies at the University of Texas. There he has studied with Dan Welcher, Yevgeniy Sharlat, Russell Pinkston, Donald Grantham, and the late opera composer Daniel Catán. Joshua is an avid cyclist and enjoys vegetarian cooking and a good cup of coffee.


Compositions by Joshua Shank

1: (Easy) No divisi in voice parts, accompaniment doubles or supports vocal parts, diatonic, symmetrical phrases, textures mostly homophonic, simple rhythms, stepwise voice leading (conjunct), moderate ranges, no extended techniques, and limited sustained singing.

2: (Medium Easy) Limited divisi, voices somewhat independent from accompaniment, some chromatics, phrases may be longer or more fragmented, mostly homophonic, moderate rhythmic complexity, some difficult intervals (disjunct motion), moderate ranges, extended techniques are simple, limited sustained singing.

3. (Medium) Limited divisi, unaccompanied, or with independent accompaniment (voice parts not doubled), many chromatics, phrases of varying lengths, more contrapuntal textures, moderately complex rhythms, some difficult intervals (disjunct motion), moderately difficult/challenging ranges, extended techniques are potentially challenging, and some sustained singing.

4. (Medium Difficult) Abundant divisi, unaccompanied, or accompanying instruments are fully independent from voice parts, many chromatics and/or key changes, long and/or broken phrases, potentially little homophony, complex rhythms, many difficult intervals (disjunct motion), difficult/challenging ranges, potentially difficult extended techniques, and a demand for sustained singing.

5. (Difficult) Adundant divis, unaccompanied, or accompanying instruments are fully independent from voice parts, many chromatics and/or key changes, long and/or broken phrases, potentially little homophony, complex rhythms, extreme ranges, use of challenging or unusual extended vocal techniques, abundant sustained singing.