Biography: Joseph Turrin is a greatly valued contributor to contemporary American musical life thanks to his wide-ranging activities as a composer.
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 work Riffs and Fanfares (Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center), Arcade (New Jersey Chamber Music Society), several commissions from the Canadian Brass, Modinha (Orpheus Chamber Orchestra), Quadrille (for the West Point Military Academy Bicentennial), High Flight (US Air Force Band in Washington, DC), Fanfare and Prelude (University of Notre Dame), 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, 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 Carnegie Hall in 2000 and premiered 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 recorded by Joseph Alessi for Summit Records. His Fandango 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. His opera The Scarecrow was commissioned by a consortium of twelve universities and had its premiere at the University of Texas at Austin. Mr. Turrin was Composer in Residence at the University of Texas in 2006.
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. "
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 a score for the 1928 silent film classic Sadie Thompson. Sadie Thompson has also received critical acclaim for live performances with orchestra at the Dartmouth College Film Festival and the Roger Ebert Forgotten Film Festival. 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 as well as the score for Frankie, with a libretto by Broadway legend George Abbott. 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 Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, New Orleans, Symphony, Detroit Symphony and the New Jersey Symphony; 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 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. In 2007 his opera The Scarecrow was selected as a finalist by the American Academy of Arts and Letters Richard Rodgers Committee and the National Opera Association. He is on the composition faculty of the Hartt School of Music and Montclair State University.
His works have been performed by the New York Philharmonic, St. Martin-in-the-Fields Academy Orchestra. Lincoln Center Chamber Music Society, Canadian Brass, Ann Sophie Mutter, Baltimore Symphony, Gewandhausorchester (Leipzig, Germany), Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, New Orleans Symphony, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, New Mexico Symphony, New Jersey Symphony, English Chamber Orchestra, Little Orchestra Society of New York, Wynton Marsalis, Philip Smith, Joseph Alessi, Lew Soloff, Carol Wincenc, Hugh Wolff, Kurt Masur, Erich Leinsdorf, Ramon Vargas, Evelyn Glennie. Susannah McCorkle, Sumi Jo, US Army Band, US Air Force Band, US Marine Band (The Presidents Own), US Army Brass Quintet, Atlantic Brass Quintet, New Jersey Chamber Music Society, West Point Military Academy Band, Eastman Wind Ensemble, University of North Texas Wind Symphony and many others.
His publishers include: Theodore Presser, Boosey and Hawkes, C. F. Peters, Curnow Music, BIM Editions, Kjos Music, Winwood Music, Paramount Pictures, Warner Brothers Music, C. Alan Publications and others. His works are recorded on the Teldec, RCA, EMI, Naxos, Cala, Summit, Albany, Klavier, MSR Classics, Crystal, and Curnow labels.
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."