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, loadbang, Yarn/Wire, line upon line percussion, the SEM Ensemble, and the Moreau-VanTuinen Duo. At the end of his studies at Huddersfield, he 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. Joel was selected for the SEM Ensemble’s 2018 Emerging Composers Workshop with Petr Kótik and has also attended masterclasses with Marcos Balter, Ann Cleare, 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.
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), the 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 with Marco Stroppa and Stefano Gervasoni (Italy).