Joel Martinson has held the position of Director of Music and Organist at The Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration in Dallas, Texas, since June 2004. He coordinates the musical life of this vibrant parish, including choral and instrumental ensembles for all ages, as well as the music series Transfigured Nights. He led Transfiguration’s new organ project, which culminated in a 3-manual, 47-stop organ by the firm of Richards, Fowkes & Co. dedicated in 2010. Prior to his work at Transfiguration, he served for 16 years at Saint Rita Catholic Community in Dallas, where he created a large, diverse and recognized music and arts program, and helped secure a new organ by the Bedient Pipe Organ Company. A product of two generations of clergy-musician families, Mr. Martinson was born in Minneapolis in 1960 and raised in Oregon. He has worked as a professional musician in Episcopal, Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Presbyterian and Reformed Jewish houses of worship since his teens.
An active composer, Joel Martinson has been commissioned by a wide array of churches, musical organizations and individual performers across the United States. His award-winning compositions have been widely featured at conventions of professional and denominational musicians’ organizations in the US, and have been performed throughout North America and Great Britain, as well as on the European, African and Asian continents. His works have been recorded by professional choral organizations, university choirs and wind ensembles, community and church choirs, acclaimed organ recitalists, and other performers. They have been heard nationally on both American Public Media’s Pipedreams and National Public Radio’s Performance Today. Over 100 of his works are published by Paraclete Press, Oxford University Press and a number of other respected US music houses, as well as his own publishing concern – Kessler Park Press.
Martinson holds both the Bachelor and Master of Music degrees in Organ Performance with secondary area of composition from The University of North Texas, where he was an organ student of Dr. Charles S. Brown. His previous undergraduate study was at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. He won first place in the 1982 National Organ Competition sponsored by First Presbyterian Church, Ottumwa, Iowa, and the 1993 Wurlitzer Organ Prize sponsored by the Music Teachers National Association. He is known for his rhythmically-vibrant and musical interpretations of organ works spanning the centuries, as well as for his stylistically-sensitive playing of the works of J. S. Bach and other composers of the Baroque period.
A frequent organ recitalist and performer of hymn festivals, he has also been invited to lecture on the diverse styles of sacred music at the turn of the twenty-first century as well as his work as a composer, speaking to AGO chapters and conventions, denominational gatherings, and university students. He also has been called on to introduce new music for congregation, piano, organ, and keyboard with instruments. From 2000-2004, he was Adjunct Faculty in Church Music at The University of North Texas in Denton, where he taught a series of courses in the historical and modern practice of liturgy and church music. He has been awarded membership in both Pi Kappa Lambda and Phi Kappa Phi, and is a Distinguished Member and National Arts Associate of Sigma Alpha Iota.
Martinson has served as Dean of the Dallas Chapter of the American Guild of Organists and in other capacities in chapter and convention leadership as well as with the national AGO.