Joseph Turrin (b. 4 January 1947, Clifton, N.J.) is a greatly valued contributor to contemporary American musical life thanks to his wide-ranging activities as a composer, orchestrator, conductor, pianist, and teacher.
Turrin 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 Wincence 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 works Riffs and Fanfares (The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center), Arcade (New Jersey Chamber Music Society), Quadrille (West Point Military Academy), Chronicles (twelve American Universities for Philip Smith), Modinha (Orpheus Chamber Orchestra) 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 the new 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 and premiered at Carnegie Hall in 2000 by the Philharmonic's brass section). In addition, he has composed numerous solo and chamber works to spotlight the talents of several Philharmonic musicians. Most recently 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 Philharmonic's 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; it was selected as a finalist both by the American Academy of Arts and Letters Richard Rodgers Committee and in 2007 and 2017 by the National Opera Association.
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, Tough Guys Don't Dance (directed by Norman Mailer), Verna-USO Girl (nominated for three Emmy Awards), Nightmare on Elm Street 3, Kingdom of Shadows, Broken Blossoms (1919 silent film classic directed by D.W. Griffith, starring Lillian Gish) and for the restoration of the silent film classic Sadie Thompson. 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. Other theater works by Turrin include the opera Feathertop, Love Games and The Barricade. 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.
His works have been performed by the New York Philharmonic, St. Martin-in-the-Fields Academy Orchestra, U.S. Army Band, U.S. Air Force Band, U.S. Marine Band ("The President's Own"), U.S. 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.
Turrin has appeared as a conductor with the Pittsburgh, Baltimore, New Orleans, Detroit, and New Jersey Symphonies; 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 National Endowment on the Arts (2011), 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.
Professor Turrin is on the composition faculty of Rutgers University, Montclair State University and Kean University.
Works for Winds
- Arabesque (1990/2004)
- Celebration (2010)
- Chronicles (2000)
- Concert Processional (2011)
- Concertino for 11 Instruments and Wind Ensemble (2011)
- Dedication for Band (2009)
- Fandango: For Solo Trumpet, Trombone and Wind Symphony (1999)
- Fanfare and Prelude (2009)
- Hemispheres (2002)
- High Flight (2008)
- Hope Alive
- Illuminations (2004)
- Invocation (1992)
- Jazzalogue No 1 (1997/2002)
- Labyrinth (2011)
- Lullaby for Noah (2008)
- Masquerade (2012)
- Nessum Dorma (as arranger)
- Quadrille (2002)
- Regiment of Heroes March (2016)
- Ritual. See: Soundings for Band (1997)
- Sandia Crest
- Scarecrow Overture (2009)
- Serenade Romantic (1982)
- The Sounding of the Call (2014)
- Soundings for Band (1997)
- Ritual (2011)
- Two Sketches for Band
- Aarhus, Craig. "Celebration." In Teaching Music through Performance in Band. Volume 9, edit. & comp. by Richard Miles, 322-328. Chicago: GIA Publications, 2013.
- Cicconi, C. (2017). The Band Music Handbook: A Catalog of Emerging Band Repertoire. Rowman & Littlefield: Lanham, Md.
- deAlbuquerque, Joan. "Concert Processional." In Teaching Music through Performance in Band. Volume 9, edit. & comp. by Richard Miles, 140-144. Chicago: GIA Publications, 2013.
- Houser, Barry L. "Masquerade." In Teaching Music through Performance in Band. Volume 10, Compiled and edited by Richard Miles, 438-445. Chicago: GIA Publications, 2015.
- Joseph Turrin website
- McCutchen, Mathew G. (2009) An Examination of the History and Winning Pieces of the National Band Association's Composition Contest: 1977-2008. Florida State University, Doctoral Dissertation
- Joseph Turrin, personal correspondence, September 2019.
- Smedley, Eric M. "Scarecrow Overture." In Teaching Music through Performance in Band. Volume 9, edit. & comp. by Richard Miles, 626-636. Chicago: GIA Publications, 2013.