Joseph Church

Composer / Conductor / Arranger / Pianist / Author




Rags poster.jpg

A happy new year 2019 to all! Here’s the latest:

The new musical A Sign of the Times had a second production at the Delaware Theatre Company at the end of 2018, with a superb cast led by Chilina Kennedy, longtime star of Beautiful on Broadway. The orchestra was expanded to ten pieces, so I finally got to plug in some real horns and percussion! My dear friends and longtime colleagues Rick Fox and Gabriel Barre continue in their work as Music Director and Director; Joann Hunter is our fabulous choreographer, and Bruce Vilanch’s book tells the story with style, humor, and 60s panache!  A dream team indeed!

Up next, the NYU-Steinhardt production of the legendary musical Rags, directed again by Gabe Barre and given a fresh look by writers Stephen Schwartz and David Thompson. It’s a marvelous student cast and orchestra (with stunning orchestrations by Dan DeLange), and a show whose time has truly come.

After that, I’m on to a workshop (as music supervisor) of the new musical Bhangin’ It, a Bhangra dance musical with authentic choreography by Rujuta Vaidya, a super-hip score by Sam Willmott, and a delightful book by Rehana Lew Mizra and Mike Lew. Amy Corcoran is our marvelous director.

And just down the line, coming October 1, 2019, look for my new book from Oxford University Press, called Rock in the Musical Theatre: A Guide for Singers. More to follow! 

Older news: In May 2017, the NYU Symphony Orchestra and seven student and professional singers premiered our latest fable, THE TORTOISE AND THE TWO DUCKS, in celebration of Sheldon's 93rd birthday (see Photos page).  Thanks to the NYU Orchestral Studies programs, the wonderful musicians and management of the NYU Symphony, and especially Maestro Eduardo Leandro ( for his brilliant leadership of this challenging orchestral/vocal work.  (Excerpts from the piece are on the Music page.). UPDATE: In April 2019, the piece won third place in the American Prize Competition, Composition for Orchestra (Light Classical and Pops Division)!


In July 2017, the Utah Festival of Opera and Musical Theatre revived the musical REX, with Sheldon's lyrics, a revised book by Sherman Yellen, and music by Richard Rodgers.  I was honored to re-orchestrate the show for a period-style orchestra (okay, I used a synthesizer for the keyboards...).  The team, and the Rodgers and Hammerstein Library, are eager to find more production opportunities for the show.  This was the second Harnick musical I had re-orchestrated; last year was the York Theater's remounted ROTHSCHILD & SONS.


I recently returned from a thrilling week in Beijing, China, where I was a guest artist/lecturer at the fourth annual PEKING UNIVERSITY INTERNATIONAL SYMPOSIUM ON MUSIC.  It was a great honor to work with the remarkably talented faculty and artists in China, and learn some very valuable lessons about cross-cultural issue in music, musical theatre, and beyond.  (See pictures on the photos page.)  I also spent a few days guest lecturing and holding master classes at SAN FRANCISCO STATE UNIVERSITY, having been invited by my original cast Lion King friend, Mark Allan Davis, who now heads up the musical theatre program at SFSU.  Thanks, Mark, and bravo on your superb training program!  (I of course welcome any opportunity to visit San Francisco, where I can visit my daughter, Susannah, who works for Google in Mountain View.)


My book, MUSIC DIRECTION FOR THE STAGE: A VIEW FROM THE PODIUM is now in its fourth printing from Oxford University Press.  I am hard at work on a second book for Oxford-- stay tuned!


That’s the news for now.  Please stay in touch, and check out my periodic blogs on


Good wishes to all-- please keep the faith and keep walking the high road during these troubling political and social times... maybe someday, we shall overcome...