Joel Kirk is a composer studying for a PhD at SUNY Buffalo under David Felder. He also teaches undergraduate music theory at SUNY Buffalo alongside his PhD studies. He previously studied at the University of Huddersfield under Aaron Cassidy. Joel has worked with ensembles such as The Arditti Quartet, ELISION, the Divertimento Ensemble, loadbang, Ensemble Signal, Yarn/Wire, line upon line percussion, the SEM Ensemble, HANATSU Miroir, Ensemble Uncaged, and the Moreau-VanTuinen Duo.
At the end of his studies at Huddersfield, Joel received the J Wood & Sons Prize for acoustic composition and the Crabtree Prize for all-around achievement; he also received an 'honourable mention' in loadbang's 2021 commission competition. He has had works performed at festivals and concert series such as June in Buffalo, the SEM Ensemble’s Emerging Composers Workshop, the Longy Spring Concert Series, Longy Divergent Studio, the CeReNeM Concert Series, and the Divertimento Ensemble's International Young Composer's Workshop. He has also attended masterclasses with leading composers such as Augusta Read Thomas, Marco Stroppa, Petr Kótik, Marcos Balter, Ann Cleare, Stefano Gervasoni, and Aaron Holloway-Nahum. His paper “Initial Approaches to Idiomatic Contemporary Writing for a Musical Instrument: Discovering Methods of Practice-Based Research” was published in the Fields 2018 issue.
Joel's interest in composition stems from the social anxieties associated with having a speech impediment as a child and living as an openly gay man in today’s still somewhat polarized society. He is primarily interested in anxiety, irritation, awkwardness and the grotesque/macabre as key points of inspiration for imagining, creating, and developing material. Ranging from the highly mechanical to the extremely untethered, his pieces occupy floating, ethereal sound-worlds where performers must work together to urgently negotiate their way through dense clouds of uncertain activity. He regularly collaborates with queer poet Travis Sharp, using their poetry for inspiration (http://www.travisasharp.com).
As a performer, Joel studied flugelhorn with virtuoso cornetist Phillip McCann at the University of Huddersfield, playing solo flugelhorn for the UK-based Leyland Brass Band (one of the top 20 brass bands in the world) before moving to the USA for his PhD studies. He has written a number of explorative pieces for the instrument, aiming to discover new sound worlds and expand the (currently minimal) repertoire available in new music.
In 2021, Joel is looking forward to having works played by ELISION (Australia), Hanatsu Miroir (France), Ensemble Signal at the June in Buffalo Festival (USA), loadbang at the Longy Divergent Studio (USA), and the Divertimento Ensemble at their 3rd International Young Composers Workshop (Italy).