Joel Feigin

Joel Feigin
Professor Emeritus
Composition Program




Joel Feigin (b: New York City,1951) is a composer whose music has been heard across the U.S. and abroad, from France and Germany to Taiwan and Korea. His works have been widely praised for their "very strong impact, as logical in musical design as they are charged with emotion and drama." (Opera Magazine)

Feigin's many honors include a Senior Fulbright Fellowship at the Moscow State Conservatory in Russia (1998-1999) and a Guggenheim Fellowship to write his first opera, Mysteries of Eleusis, commissioned for Theatre Cornell and produced there in 1986. The complete opera was presented again in 1999 at the Moscow Conservatory, which requested a chamber version that it produced in 2000 as part of the Russian-American Festival of Operatic Art. Feigin's new opera, Twelfth Night, based on the play by William Shakespeare, was chosen by New York City Opera for its VOX 2003 series of readings: Showcasing American Composers. A chamber orchestra version of Twelfth Night, commissioned by Long Leaf Opera in North Carolina, was premiered by them in October 2005.

Feigin's chamber and orchestral music has been performed and commissioned by such groups as Parnassus, Currents Ensemble, Voices of Change, the Santa Barbara Youth Symphony, and by pianist Leonard Stein for Piano-Spheres. Speculum Musicae and the Auros Group for New Music have both presented Veranderungen for violin and piano as the winner of their 1998 composition competitions. Among other highlights of Feigin's career, a 2-CD set on North/South Recordings followed a full evening of his chamber and vocal works performed by Musicians Accord at Merkin Concert Hall in New York City. Concerts devoted solely to Feigin's music have also been given in Armenia and Russia.

Two of Feigin's orchestral works have been premiered in Russia: Festive Overture by the Nijnij Novgorod Symphony Orchestra under Vladimir Ziva, and Mosaic in Two Panels for String Orchestra by the Chamber Orchestra Kremlin under Mikhail Rachlevsky. In America, the Santa Barbara Symphony has performed Elegy for Orchestra, in Memoriam Otto Luening, under Gise`le Ben-Dor, and the American premiere of Festive Overture, under Edwin Outwater.

Joel Feigin studied composition with Nadia Boulanger at Fontainebleau and with Roger Sessions at The Juilliard School, where he received his DMA degree. The recipient of a post-graduate Mellon Fellowship at Cornell University, he also holds an undergraduate degree from Columbia University. Early in his career, as an Aaron Copland-ASCAP fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center, Feigin received the Dimitri Mitropoulos Prize in Composition. Over the years he has been granted residencies at the MacDowell Colony, Yaddo and the Millay Colony.

An accomplished pianist and accompanist, Feigin was also a student of Rosina Lhevine, worked with Nico Castel at the Metropolitan Opera and Antonia Lavanne at the Mannes College of Music, and is often called upon to participate in performances of his own works. Among them have been Veranderungen with Juilliard Quartet violinist Ronald Copes in Santa Barbara, CA and Echoes From the Holocaust with members of the Czech Philharmonic in Prague.

A student of Zen Buddhism, Feigin is Professor Emeritus of composition at the University of California, Santa Barbara. To learn more about Joel Feigin, please visit


Lament Amid Silence (MSR Classics)

Joel Feigin, composer / Helen Callus, viola / Callus Viola Studio

Visit Fanfare magazine online (January/February 2013 issue) for a feature article on Joel Feigin.

"[This CD] makes its mark through a very personal and emotional combination of tonal and atonal elements. Opening quotes on the first page of the booklet state "Amid lament, there is silence; within silence, there is lament," and this is indeed the guiding principle Feigen uses in constructing this music. The opening Lament for solo viola is full of angst - much of the music here resembles Hindemtih - but there are also remarkably lyric interludes, brief soaring melodic lines that stand out, and of course many moments of silence which redouble the effect of the music. It must be said that violist Helen Callus is an extraordinary musician, able to elicit every mood and change of mood that Feigin has written into his score, and this opening movement is, for her, a real tour de force...Callus and her Viola Studio group play with exceptional feeling and virtuosity. This is the world premiere recording of this cycle of pieces, but truth to tell, it would be difficult to imagine anyone playing them as well, let alone better. Highly recommended to lovers of modern music."

- Lynn René Bayley, Fanfare Issue 36:3 [Jan/Feb 2013]