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Born in Los Angeles in 1962, Joseph Klein is a composer of solo, chamber, and large ensemble works, including instrumental, vocal, electroacoustic, and intermedia compositions. His music—which has been described as “a dizzying euphoria... like a sonic tickling with counterpoint gone awry” (NewMusicBox) and exhibiting a “confident polyvalence [that] heightens its very real excitement” (The Wire)—reflects an ongoing interest in processes drawn from such sources as fractal geometry, chaos, and systems theory, often inspired by natural phenomena. His works frequently incorporate theatrical elements, whether as a component of the extra-musical references or as an organic outgrowth of the musical narrative itself. Literature is another important influence on his work, with recent compositions based on the writings of Franz Kafka, Elias Canetti, Alice Fulton, W.S. Merwin, Milan Kundera, and John Ashbery.
Klein's compositions have been performed and broadcast internationally and his work has been recognized by such organizations as the National Endowment for the Arts, American Music Center, Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, Gaudeamus Foundation, International Society for Contemporary Music, International Confederation of Electroacoustic Music, Society of Composers, Inc., Society for Electroacoustic Music in the United States, American Composers Forum/Jerome Foundation, Meet the Composer, National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts, and ASCAP. Commissions, recordings, and other collaborations with new music specialists in the US and abroad include the International Contemporary Ensemble, the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, Orchestra 2001, Voices of Change, the Texas New Music Ensemble, TrioPolis, Amorsima Trio, cellist Madeleine Shapiro, saxophonist Andreas van Zoelen (Raschèr Saxophone Quartet), flutists Helen Bledsoe (Ensemble Musikfabrik) and Elizabeth McNutt, contrabassoonist James Rodgers (Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra), bassist Michael Hartt (Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra), pianist Redi Llupa, glass harmonica player Thomas Bloch, and vocalists Joan LaBarbara and Dora Ohrenstein (Philip Glass Ensemble). He has been a featured guest composer at academic institutions, conferences, and music festivals throughout the Americas, Europe, and Asia. His recorded works are available on the Innova, Centaur, Crystal, and Mark labels.
Klein holds degrees in composition from Indiana University (DM, 1991), University of California, San Diego (MA, 1986), and California State Polytechnic University, Pomona (BA, 1984), where his composition teachers included Harvey Sollberger, Claude Baker, Robert Erickson, and Roger Reynolds. He is currently Distinguished Teaching Professor at the University of North Texas College of Music, where he has served as Chair of Composition Studies since 1999.