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Student Degree Recital: Justin Birchell, DMA, Choral Conducting

Friday, November 17, 2023 - 7:30pm
University Presbyterian Church, 4540 15th Ave NE, Seattle, WA 98105 - Google Map
Depth of Field concert flier

Justin Birchell, DMA Choral Conducting, presents a doctoral degree recital, "Depth of Field,” featuring the UW Recital Choir and Cohort Ensemble, with Stephen Swanson, piano, and Lyon Stewart, tenor. Program includes music by Meredith Monk, Reena Esmail, Johannes Brahms, and Adolphus Hailstork.  



Alaskan Justin Birchell is a baritone, conductor, composer, and educator. He holds a BA in Music Performance (2019) and an MM in Voice Performance (2021), both from UCLA’s Herb Alpert School of Music. He is currently studying toward a DMA in Choral Conducting from the University of Washington. At UCLA, Birchell was a recipient of the Elaine Krown Klein Fine Arts Scholarship, The Mimi Alpert Feldman Scholarship, and two Dean’s Medals, and was a Fellow of the Gluck Fellows Music Outreach Program. Justin was a 2019-20 winner of the UCLA Philharmonia All-Stars concerto competition.

Justin is the Music Director at Wallingford United Methodist Church, and the Music and Artistic Director of Vivat Musica Polish Choir of the Seattle Polish Home. He is an Assistant Conductor of the UW Chorale, and the instructor for ENGL 197A: Writing in the Humanities (a class of the Program for Writing Across Campus, linked to MUSIC 120, Survey of Music). Justin is a former conductor of the UW Glee Club. Justin is a member of Choral Arts Northwest.

For many years, Justin was passionately active in the performing arts scene in his hometown of Anchorage, Alaska. He was the primary music director and singing teacher at TBA Theatre, Inc, an educational nonprofit, for four years. He music-directed TBA’s mainstage production of The Sound of Music and composed the live original score for TBA’s cirque nouveau spectacle Illusions: Wild Things, among many other projects there. For two years, Justin served as the choir director at Anchorage Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, where he also composed a number of original choral works. He also presented the workshop World Music as a Window on the Human Spirit to the Pacific Northwest District Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association. As an educator, Birchell has presented workshops, masterclasses, and guest lectures for the University of Alaska Anchorage, Palmer Arts Council, Anchorage School District and others. Justin was the 2018 winner of the Ted Stevens Young Alaskan Artist Award from the Anchorage Festival of Music.

Justin is also a passionate lover of wilderness, and before college, he spent over three years working in a remote wilderness lodge in the Brooks Mountain Range of Northern Alaska, about 250 miles from the nearest town (or opera house!).

As an opera performer, Justin began his career in Anchorage Opera’s chorus while still in high school and later sang the role of Sacristan in Anchorage Opera’s Tosca and Samuel in their Pirates of Penzance. Other notable opera roles include Figaro in UAA Opera’s The Marriage of Figaro, Dr. Falke and Herr Frank in Portland State University’s Die Fledermaus, Silvio in Opera Fairbanks’ I Pagliacci, along with numerous roles through Opera UCLA, including creating the roles of Manfred in Lost Childhood and Padre Antonio in Juana, both world premieres.

Birchell also remains active as a composer. His original song-cycle Three Nocturnes - Words of the Night was premiered at UCLA in June 2018 by soprano Stephanie Deprez and pianist Victoria Kirsch, and in June 2019 he sang the premiere of his own art song Aurora Aubade, on poetry from Alaskan poet Ian Colbert’s beautiful volume Midnight Elegies. Justin’s incidental music for The Death of Edgar Allan Poe traveled to Scotland in summer of 2018 for TBA Theatre’s production at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Justin's new work Why the Heck Not: Excerpts from a One-Man Music-Video Opera About the Time I Ran a Meme Page on Instagram Because it's a Pandemic and Everything is Ridiculous was included in his 2021 video recital, This is Just a Recital. His arrangement of the Grateful Dead's Attics of My Life for TTBB choir was sung by the UW Glee Club in 2022.