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Music Bio


Founder of the Wizarding School for Composers, Joseph Sowa draws on diverse influences — from linguistics to plainchant to American football — to create music focused on detailed textures and vivid colors. His music has been performed by professionals and amateurs alike, including groups such as Collage New Music, Ensemble Dal Niente, the Genesis Chamber Singers, the Ludovico Ensemble, and the PRISM Quartet, and middle and high schools across North America. He has received awards from ASCAP, the American Prize, and the Barlow Endowment and holds a PhD in Music Composition and Theory from Brandeis University.


Joseph Sowa grew up playing violin and listening to orchestral broadcasts on NPR. He was captivated by how music speaks to our bodies’ rhythmic layers, as captured by composers as varied as Elliott Carter, John Williams, and Stevie Wonder. Surrounded by these sounds, Joseph wanted to make more of them.

Recent performances include premieres played by the Ludovico Ensemble, Collage New Music, Ensemble Dal Niente, and a consortium of English Horn players including Carolyn Hove, principal English Horn of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. His piece Motion Lines is scheduled for release by the PRISM Quartet on their album Surfaces and Essences.

His concert works have been performed in Europe by the Quartetto Indaco, Arianna Tieghi, and Douglas Bush and throughout the United States by the Awea Duo, the BYU Philharmonic and Chamber Orchestras, the Lydian String Quartet, and the Tower Duo, as well as by Ron Brough, Douglas Bush, Eric Hansen, Jaren Hinckley, Scott Holden, Jed Moss, Ray Smith, and Neil Thornock, among others.

He has been commissioned by performers including Hub New Music, the Genesis Chamber Singers, the Farallon Quintet, Douglas Bush, Carolyn Hove, Neil Thornock, and Arianna Tieghi as well as foundations including the Barlow Endowment for Music Composition, the Laycock Endowment for Creative Collaboration in the Arts.

Joseph’s sacred music, including originals and arrangements, has been performed in congregations across the United States and in London. His arrangement of “For the Beauty of the Earth” was recorded by soprano Charity Tillemann-Dick on her album American Grace, which debuted no. 1 on the Billboard® “Traditional Classical” chart.

Joseph received his PhD in music composition and theory from Brandeis University. His dissertation paper examined the transformation of motive, tempo, and the symphonic genre in Thomas Adès’s Tevot, contextualizing it with Heraclitian philosophy and Sibelius’s Seventh Symphony. Other research interests include musical gestalt theory, 18th-century continuo and partimenti practice, and algorithmic composition. He co-designed and co-taught the class “Star Wars: How Long Ago? How Far Away?” and dreams of writing a piece for tuba ensemble.

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