Joseph Thalken

Joseph Thalken is an award-winning composer who gained acclaim in 2003 when he became the first (and, to this date, the only) composer to ever have two musicals showcased the same year at the prestigious National Alliance for Musical Theatre (NAMT) Festival in New York. The two shows were Harold & Maude (an intimate musical), book/lyrics by Fantasticks co-creator Tom Jones (later produced at the Paper Mill Playhouse, Millburn, NJ; TheatreWorks, Palo Alto; Human Race Theatre Company, Dayton; and other theaters from Cleveland to Tokyo); and Was, book/lyrics by Barry Kleinbort, based on Geoff Ryman’s novel (workshopped at Lincoln Center Theatre, NYC; produced at Human Race Theatre Company, Dayton; and Northwestern University’s American Music Theatre Project).

His most recent musical, And the Curtain Rises (based on a true story about the birth of the first American musical) with book by Michael Slade and lyrics by Mark Campbell, was one of three new works commissioned by the Signature Theatre in Arlington, VA, and the Shen Family Foundation, and made its world premiere in March of this year. His latest project, Borrowed Dust, is being written with Martin Moran and will premiere early next year as part of the Inner Voices: Solo Musicals series in New York City.

Thalken has also written art songs, choral, concert and chamber music works, including Tales of Music and Magic (Skaneateles Festival); and contributed to Mark Campbell’s Songs from an Unmade Bed (New York Theatre Workshop). His music and orchestrations can be heard on albums by Rebecca Luker, Howard McGillin, BJ Ward, opera star Nathan Gunn, among others. On Broadway, Thalken conducted Victor/Victoria with Julie Andrews and Liza Minnelli, and Gypsy with Patti LuPone. He’s also conducted the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra; New Jersey Symphony Orchestra; Aachen Stadttheater (Germany); and International Opera Studio (Zurich). As a pianist and musical director, he has toured extensively with LuPone, and worked with Bernadette Peters, Elizabeth Futral, Denyce Graves, Polly Bergen, Faith Prince, Kristin Chenoweth, Marin Mazzie, Jason Danieley and many more.

Previous honors include two Gilman & Gonzalez-Falla Foundation Musical Theater 3 of 3 Commendations, the Constance Klinsky Award, Meet the Composer award, and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. He is a proud graduate of Northwestern University.