Joshua Groffman is a composer, music theorist, performer, and pedagogue based in western PA, where he is currently Assistant Professor of Music at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford.
As a composer, Groffman’s work draws on experiments in time and form and a background as a performer of rock, jazz, and art music. A native of New York’s Hudson Valley, recent projects have often focused on the physical and human geography of that area. New and ongoing projects for 2017-2018 include Unfinished, an opera commissioned and produced by Vital Opera, written in collaboration with poet Sarah Heady; a commission from Fordham University for the Voices Up! concert series; a new work in the ongoing Notes from the end of an empire series for electric guitar, live electronics, and video; and a multimedia collaboration with the visual artist Keiko Sono.
Previous performances have been with groups including the American Composers Orchestra, Ensemble Laboratorium, Vital Opera, Aspen Contemporary Ensemble, New York New Music Collective, Poné Ensemble for New Music, Delaware Valley Chorale, Ars Musica Chorale, Duo 231, Bard College Vocal Arts Program, and the Indiana University Contemporary Vocal Ensemble. Groffman’s works have been selected for performance at the Aspen Music Festival, June in Buffalo, SEAMUS National Conference, Electroacoustic Barn Dance, College Music Society National Conference, Florida State University New Music Festival, Cal State Fullerton New Music Festival, New York City Electroacoustic Music Festival, Midwest Composers Symposium, and the 60×60 VoxNovus East Coast Mix.
A long-time multi-instrumentalist, Groffman has as a pianist participated in premieres of works by Alexandra Vrebalov, Sky Macklay, Daniela Candillari, Stephen Gorbos, David Werfelman, and Gabriel Lubell among others, as well as performing his own works frequently on piano and guitar. In November 2017 he travelled to Marseille, France to perform the 150 minute piano score to Gerhard Lamprecht’s 1928 silent film Unter der Laterne; as well, his orchestrations of films scores have been performed in the United States and Italy. Groffman also champions new music performance through his work as founding artistic director of One Quiet Plunge, a group devoted to the promotion and performance of new music in the Hudson Valley; since 2014, the group has staged concerts and multimedia presentations at locations around the Valley, including multiple commissions of new works by emerging area composers.
An interest in the specificity of place has informed Groffman’s scholarly work as well, including a recent publication on place-based composition in the Hudson Valley (Musica Est Donum, June 2017). His current project examines music and sound’s deployment in competing representations of community in his hometown in upstate NY.
A devoted pedagogue, Groffman has taught music theory, composition, computer music, and interdisciplinary arts seminars at Pitt-Bradford, Sarah Lawrence College, the John J. Cali School of Music at Montclair State University, and the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. He places a particular emphasis on active learning as a technique for creating a more inclusive classroom and has conducted research on encouraging collaboration that allows students of different backgrounds to excel at music in the context of their experience. His manuscript on a groupwork-based guided inquiry method of theory pedagogy is forthcoming from the Journal of Music Theory Pedagogy in 2018.
Groffman (b. 1984) graduated magna cum laude from Cornell University in 2007, where he completed double majors in music and history. While at Cornell, he studied composition with Roberto Sierra and Steven Stucky and piano with Xak Bjerken and Malcolm Bilson. Groffman holds Doctor of Music (2012) and Master of Music (2009) degrees from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, where he studied composition with Sven-David Sandström, P.Q. Phan, Claude Baker, Aaron Travers, and Don Freund and computer music with Jeffrey Hass and John Gibson.