Joshua Shank

Dr. Joshua Shank, DMA

Instructor of Music, He/him/his

Degrees Held:

Doctor of Musical Arts – University of Texas at Austin, 2016

Career Highlights:

The works of composer Joshua Shank have been widely performed by educational and professional ensembles alike. His music has been called “jubilant … ethereal” (Santa Barbara News-Press) and “evocative and atmospheric” (Gramophone). Furthermore, the Boston Classical Review called his "Magnificat for the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo" “powerful” and “emotionally charged.”

His music often features the human voice and focuses on social justice or the amplification of marginalized communities. His work, "capable of anything," celebrated the nationwide passage of marriage equality in the United States, while his oratorio, "Magnificat for the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo," tells the story of the organization of Argentine mothers who campaigned for their children who were “disappeared” by the military junta that formally ruled the nation. His work, "Primavera en Silencio," is based on American conservationist Rachel Carson’s landmark 1962 writing on climate change, "Silent Spring." Shank’s "Alleluia (from quarantine)" was commissioned by a consortium of 35 ensembles from across the United States. In the process, the work raised over $11,000 for gigging musicians whose livelihoods have been decimated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

He has been commissioned by ensembles such as True Concord Voices & Orchestra, Lorelei Ensemble and The Choral Project. From 2004-2014, he served as Composer-In-Residence for the Minneapolis-based professional choir, The Singers: Minnesota Choral Artists, where he collaborated annually to expand and invigorate the repertoire for professional-caliber ensembles through innovative programming and new works written specifically for the choir. In 2002, he became the youngest composer ever awarded the prestigious Raymond W. Brock Composition Award by the American Choral Directors Association. The winning piece, "Musica Animam Tangens" (“Music Touches the Soul”), premiered in David Geffen Hall at the Lincoln Center and has since been performed and recorded all over the world. His music was featured in the 2009 documentary about the extensive choral tradition in the Upper Midwest, "Never Stop Singing," and his published works have sold over 150,000 copies worldwide. He is a proud Artistic Founding Partner of Graphite Publishing’s online distribution arm, Graphite Marketplace, where his works can be found under the banner of his publishing company, B&F Music.

In recent years, Joshua has enjoyed writing program notes for various ensembles and composers around the United States. In 2008, he received a grant to write an article celebrating the state of Minnesota’s significant contribution to the nation’s history of singing for the state’s 150th anniversary. Three years later, he was engaged to write an essay for The Singers for their world premiere presentation of Jocelyn Hagen’s evening-length oratorio, "Amass." He also collaborated with the Austin-based professional choir, Conspirare, to write extensive notes and give a pre-concert talk for their 2016 tribute to the late composer, "Stephen Paulus, A Lyrical Life," as well as their 2012 album of Samuel Barber’s choral music, "Samuel Barber: An American Romantic," released on the Harmonia Mundi label.

Joshua received his undergraduate degree in Music Education from Luther College, where he studied conducting with Weston Noble.He earned master’s and doctoral degrees in Musicology and Music Composition from the University of Texas at Austin, where he studied with Charles Carson, Yevgeniy Sharlat, Donald Grantham, Russell Pinkston and the late Mexican opera composer Daniel Catán.

A fierce advocate for students of all ages to have access to music education, he has served as a public-school teacher in Minneapolis/St. Paul and taught on the music faculties of Gonzaga University, Valley City State University and Eastern Washington University.

  • In which online degree program do you teach?

    Master of Music in Music Education

  • Links to share:


  • In what ways do you connect with online students?

    I use email and Canvas.

  • What do you want your students to take away from class?

    I want my students to learn how educators can employ compositional techniques in their classes as well as how to deploy analytical techniques based on music theory practices to enhance their instruction.

  • What is the value of an advanced degree in today’s work environment?

    Good teachers know their students best. A Master's in Music Education will give them the research-based methods they can use to specify their instruction for the students in front of them.

  • What advice would you give to your online students?

    Don't be afraid to reach out for clarification. Before I went to grad school, I taught music theory and vocal music in public schools in the Twin Cities, so I'm very familiar with how much time you'll be devoting to both your studies and your students.

  • Why did you start teaching?

    Watching a student shatter a glass ceiling they've set up for themselves or noticing that proverbial light bulb go on is an addictive feeling. I also proudly come from a family of teachers, and I've been blessed by some incredible mentors myself. Serving as one link in that cycle of mentorship is something I see as my life's work.

  • What is the one book you think everyone should read?

    Every teacher should read Howard Zinn's "A People's History of the United States."

  • What do you do when you need a laugh?

    I'm a huge fan of those insane, escapist action films from the 1980s. If it's "so bad it's good," I'll probably watch it.

  • Tell us something interesting about yourself that your students may not know.

    I'm always on the lookout for new vegetarian recipes.

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