Joseph Rivers is J. Donald Feagin Professor of Music and Film Studies at the University of Tulsa, where he also chairs the Department of Film Studies and teaches and coordinates the music composition and film music scoring programs. His compositional project encompass concert, stage, and film. Recently he scored original dramatic music for the Emmy-nominated documentary film, High Stakes: The Life and Times of E.W. Marland, and he also composed the original score for Bo Bergstrom’s film, Midsummer Night’s Dream. His music for the ballet, Wahzhazhe: An Osage Ballet, portraying the story of the Osage people, has been performed all over the region by the Osage Ballet since 2012 as well as at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, DC.
Rivers’ first symphony, Echoes of War—Visions of Peace, was commissioned and premiered by the Signature Symphony at TCC, and was recorded by the Kiev Philharmonic Orchestra for Vol. 15 of ERMMedia’s “Masterworks of the New Era” series. His Concerto for Oboe, English Horn and String Orchestra, perhaps the first concerto for these two solo instruments with string orchestra, is being performed by the Signature Symphony at TCC in March 2018.
In addition to the Osage Ballet, Rivers has composed a number of Oklahoma-themed works: Symphony No. 2, Oklahoma Peoples in Trial and Triumph, which recounts the Cherokee Trail of Tears and other events in Oklahoma history, was premiered by the Signature Symphony and Chorale and the Cherokee National Youth Choir in November 2011; Lonely People of the Osage, a choral setting of words by Oklahoma poet and Pawhuska native Winston Weathers, which received its New York premiere by the Gregg Smith Singers; Will Rogers Self-Portrait, for chorus and orchestra, commissioned for the Will Rogers Heritage, Inc. and the Claremore Community Chorus; Prairie Dreams, a one-act opera about pioneer Oklahoma; and Trio for Violin, Violoncello, and Piano
, depicting the Oklahoma landscape through the eyes of a native warrior, commissioned by the Oklahoma Music Teachers Association during the Oklahoma state centennial in 2007.
The third movement, “Forest Journey,” was featured on NPR’s “Performance Today.
Rivers has recently turned to internationally themed projects, including a recently commissioned new choral work for the Tulsa Oratorio Chorus entitled,Every Man’s Land (Le Pays de Tout Homme), commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Armistice ending World War I. Other works include Portrait of a Cat, for woodwind trio and dancer with narration, commissioned by the Harwelden Institute for the Arts and premiered by the Council Oak trio, who toured it widely in Oklahoma schools, and The Exile's Return, an orchestral ballet premiered by the Mid-Illinois Ballet.