Joel Puckett is a composer leaving both audiences and the press buzzing. His music has been described as, “soaringly lyrical” (Minneapolis Star Tribune), “Puccini-esque” (Wall Street Journal), and “containing a density within a clarity, polyphony within the simple and – most importantly – beautiful and seemingly spiritual.” (Audiophile Audition). Parterre Box recently proclaimed, “Puckett should be a household name” and the Philadelphia Inquirer’s David Patrick Stearns mused, “if the name Joel Puckett isn’t etched into your brain, it should be.” In 2011 NPR Music listed him as one of the top 100 composers under 40 in the world.
Hailed as “visionary” (Washington Post) and “an astonishingly original voice” (Philadelphia Inquirer), his music is 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 commitment. Melding tradition with innovation, his distinctive style grows from his power to create transcendent experiences using charismatic musical language.
The Fix, a grand opera commissioned by Minnesota Opera, premiered in the March 2019 to packed houses, enthusiastic audiences, and largely effusive praise. With a libretto by Academy Award and Tony 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 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 with soloists Anthony McGill and Demarre McGill. 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.”
His flute concerto, The Shadow of Sirius, premiered in 2010 and has received more than 200 performances and been recorded multiple times, including 2015’s Naxos Surround Sound disc, “Shadow of Sirius,” which received a 2016 Grammy Nomination. Currently the Chair of Music Theory, Ear Training, and Piano Skills at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore where he has received a 2022 Johns Hopkins Catalyst Award, the 2022 Johns Hopkins Alumni Association Excellence in Teaching Award, and the 2021 Peabody Conservatory Student Affairs Mental Health Ally Award, Puckett presents workshops nationwide and frequently serves as an adjudicator at competitions for rising composers. His music is represented worldwide by Bill Holab Music.
Listen to an excerpt of Demarre & Anthony McGill performing Puckett’s Concerto Duo (via Spotify)