Joel Puckett is one of the most performed composers in America. His music, hailed by the Washington Post as visionary, has been performed by the leading artists of our day and is consistently recognized by organizations such as the American Composers Forum, BMI, Chorus America, National Public Radio and the American Bandmasters Association.
Puckett’s music attracts diverse performers and listeners through its emotional energy and cinematic sweep. Melding tradition with innovation, his distinctive style grows from his power to create transcendent experiences using charismatic musical language.
Recently, the Minnesota Opera announced that it will commission Puckett to compose a full-length opera The Black Sox Scandal, to premiere in the 2018-19 season. With a libretto by Academy Award winner Eric Simonson, the work depicts the rise and fall of the 1919 Chicago White Sox. It is a tragedy ripe with power, romance and redemption, set against the backdrop of America’s favorite pastime.
Puckett’s earlier commissions have been premiered and performed worldwide, to exuberant critical acclaim. His flute concerto, The Shadow of Sirius, premiered in 2010 and has received more than 150 performances, with multiple commercial recordings. Audiophile Audition called it “a beautiful and seemingly spiritual work.”
His double concerto for clarinet, flute and orchestra, Concerto Duo, was premiered by the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra in 2012, when Puckett was Composer-in-Residence. The Chicago Tribune‘s John von Rhein praised the piece, saying that it, “soar[ed] in intertwining dialogues, jazzy and lyrical, with shimmering waves of post-minimalism.” The soloists were the esteemed brothers Anthony McGill, Principal Clarinet of the New York Philharmonic, and Demarre McGill, Principal Flute of the Dallas Symphony.
The Grammy Award-winning Washington Chorus commissioned Puckett’s work This Mourning, for chorus, orchestra, 40 wine glasses, and tenor soloist in 2006 at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. Baltimore Sun critic Tim Smith wrote, “The final movement reaches profound heights… [and] a cathartic, almost ecstatic rise of melody and emotion unfolds.”
The 2014-15 seasons features more exciting premieres, among them, a symphony commissioned by Northwestern University to celebrate the opening of its new Music Building, chamber works for the award-winning reed-quintet Akropolis and for flutist Marina Piccinini, a major work for Philadelphia’s premier chamber choir The Crossing, and a concerto for trumpet virtuoso Craig Morris.
Born on the south side of Atlanta, Puckett is the son of a Dixieland jazz musician and a classical tubist. He spent his childhood improvising with his father and learning the fundamentals of both concert and popular music. He later earned the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in composition from the University of Michigan.
Currently on the faculty at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, Puckett previously taught at the Shenandoah Conservatory in Virginia. He presents workshops nationwide and frequently serves as an adjudicator at competitions for rising composers. His music is represented by Bill Holab Music.