Joshua Groffman is a composer, researcher, 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, his works have often focused on the physical and human geography of that area. Recent and ongoing projects 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 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. He is active as a performer for silent film and his orchestrations of 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 writings on nature, sound art, and place-based composition published and forthcoming in Musica Est Donum and Journal SEAMUS. His current book project is an ecomusicological examination of current and past traditions of “sounding nature” in the Hudson Valley.
An committed instructor, 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 work on guided inquiry methods in theory pedagogy is published in the Journal of Music Theory Pedagogy (2017) and forthcoming in Music Educators Journal (2019).
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.