Joseph Rivers is a concert and film composer, and is Chair of the Department of Film Studies and J. Donald Feagin Professor of Music at the University of Tulsa.


Joseph L. Rivers is J. Donald Feagin Professor of Music at the University of Tulsa, where he teaches composition, film scoring, and theory and analysis. He also chairs the University of Tulsa Department of Film Studies. Rivers is a member of BMI, Sigma Alpha Iota (National Associate), Society of Composers and Lyricists, American Composers Forum, College Music Society, and Phi Beta Kappa.His degrees are from the University of South Carolina (B.M. and M.M.), where he studied with Gordon Goodwin and Fred Teuber, and at the University of Arizona (Ph.D.), where he studied with Richard Faith, Edward Murphy, and Michael R. Rogers. He has attended many workshops and institutes in composition, film scoring, and music theory, and has educated a generation of successful musicians and music teachers. In 2008-2009 he worked in the Los Angeles area as an independent composer and orchestrator.

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Recent Works:

Musical score for the ballet, Wahzhazhe: An Osage Ballet, premiered in Tulsa and Bartlesville, OK in August 2012. The ballet tells the story of the Osage Indian Tribe of Oklahoma through ballet, modern dance, and authentic costumes. A film version and a soundtrack album was released. The work will premiere at the National Museum for the American Indian in Washington, CD in March 2013. Symphony No. 2, "Oklahoma Peoples in Trial and Triumph," premiered on November 5, 2011 by the Signature Symphony at TCC in Tulsa, the Signature Chorale, and the Cherokee National Youth Choir. It is a symphonic portrait of the Cherokee Trail of Tears, the discovery of oil and the E.W. Marland story, the Tulsa Race Riot, the Dust Bowl, and a hopeful vision of the future. His musical score for Bo Bergstrom's film, Midsummer Night's Dream, was completed in 2010 and the soundtrack album was released in 2011. Overture for Debbi, 2010, commissioned by Mark Watson and Friends of the Starlight Band of Tulsa. "Lone Wandering," for Women's Chorus, commissioned in 2010 by the Vocal Arts Ensemble of Tulsa. "The Wanderings of Ayumi" for Oboe and Harp, premiered by Tulsa oboist Lise Glaser and harpist Lorelei Barton. Concerto for Oboe, English Horn, and String Orchestra, premiered by the University of Tulsa Orchestra with Lise Glaser, oboe, Lisa Wagner, English Horn, conducted by Richard A. Wagner, March 9, 2009. This work is perhaps the first concerto for this duo with string orchestra in the history of western musicMusical score for the feature film, "Brother Mine " (Nathan McLeod, director), 2008 "Trio for Violin, Violoncello, and Piano" composed in fulfillment of the 2007 Oklahoma Music Teachers Association Commissioned Composers Award, and was premiered by Trio Tulsa in June 2007 during the OMTA Convention in Norman, OK. The work is comprised of three movements: I. Wind, Waters and Sky, II. Agehya's Love, and III. Forest Journey, and reflects the composer's impressions and feelings about the natural landscape and human story of native and pioneer Oklahoma. (It is also written in memory of Oklahoma composer, Louis Ballard, one of America's preeminent Native American composers and a personal friend, who died in February 2007.) Symphony No. 1, "Echoes of War-Visions of Peace," commissioned and premiered by the Signature Symphony of Tulsa, was recorded by the Czech Philharmonic under the direction of Robert Winstin for inclusion on Volume 15 of ERMMedia "Masterworks of the New Era" CD series Other compositions celebrating Oklahoma state centennial: Will Rogers Self-Portrait, for mixed chorus and chamber orchestra (or piano), commissioned by the Will Rogers Heritage, Inc. and the Claremore Community Chorus.; a one-act opera, Prairie Dreams, about pioneer Oklahoma; and Lonely People of the Osage, a choral setting of the beautiful poem by Oklahoma poet Winston Weathers about the Osage people near Tulsa Tempests Round Us Gather, for mixed chorus and piano with multi-media, commissioned by the Coventry Chorale of Tulsa in honor of its twentieth performance season, and in conjunction with the Smithsonian American Museum of Art exhibition, "The Gilded Age" Portrait of a Cat, for Flute/Piccolo (or Violin), Clarinet, Bassoon, and One Dancer, commissioned by the Harwelden Institute for the Arts and premiered by the Council Oak Trio The Exile's Return, an orchestral ballet in five scenes, choreography by Ken Bello, premiered by the Mid-Illinois Ballet

Artist Statement:

I stand for the possibility of opening up the power and beauty of music for creativity, community, love, transformation, spirituality, and world peace. Music not only reflects culture, but also reaches across cultures to express the inexpressible, unite communities, and transform individuals, enabling us to ascend higher and beyond ourselves. As a composer I seek to blend the head and the heart through my own language and in my own voice--to dream, be in conversation, and be open to the artistic vision, and to express this vision to others through teaching, mentoring, composition, musical performance, and scoring for film. As a professor of music and film studies I am committed to educating people in the possibilities of music and film as expressions of art, and to passing on the heritage of art and creativity to the next generation. I seek artistic integrity and excellence as a possibility, and I believe and recognize that every human being is deserving of love, dignity, respect, and understanding. I am committed to artistic creativity and service to humanity as a reflection of our Master Creative Artist.