Posted on January 27, 2017 by Tia Lalani

Augustana alumnus and pianist Joel Harder, along with colleague Dominic Armstrong (tenor), returns to campus to offer two masterclasses, a luncheon, and a concert. Learn about his journey from Camrose to Ottawa, to London, to the Julliard School of Music in New York City, and back!

By Pam Chamberlain

In February, Augustana will host two distinguished New York musicians: tenor Dominic Armstrong and pianist (and Augustana alumnus) Joel Harder.

Joel Harder

“It’s always a treat to return to Camrose,” Joel says. “Augustana is my spiritual home. It’s where I started out.” He looks forward to bringing his colleague to campus. “Dominic is an excellent singer, and we have the same taste in music,” Joel explains. Augustana’s music students will have the opportunity to attend master classes with the two musicians.

Joel and Dominic’s performance, on February 4 at 2 p.m. in the Lougheed Centre, is open to the public. Titled “A Lad’s Journey,” it features poetry by English writers such as Robert Louis Stevenson, W.H. Auden, Thomas Hardy, and William Shakespeare. The poems are loosely connected by the theme of the different paths that a young man can choose as he comes of age, whether that path involves settling down to a domestic life or setting off to explore the world. Tickets are available at camroselive.ca.

Dominic Armstrong

Students and members of the public can also join the musicians for an informal preview luncheon on February 3 at noon. English professor Paul Harland will host an interdisciplinary discussion about the featured poets and poems. The event is open to the public, but registration is required. Lunch ($5) can be arranged upon registration. Contact olafson@ualberta.ca or 780-679-1626.

Dominic and Joel will also host a university masterclass, as well as concurrent community masterclasses on February 3 and 3 pm and 7 pm in the Lougheed Centre. These events are also free and upon to the public

Joel started his music studies at Augustana in 1997, studying piano with Milton Schlosser. Looking back, he appreciates the liberal arts foundation he received at Augustana. “An artist’s role is to connect to the world,” Joel explains. “Knowing about how the world works and the various facets of human interaction informs my music. My broad education at Augustana was foundational.”

Joel went on to a masters program in solo piano at the University of Ottawa. There, he became interested in collaborative piano, more commonly called accompaniment. “Collaborative piano suits my personality,” Joel says. “It’s more cooperative and social than solo work, and I seem to have an affinity for it.” Joel completed a post-graduate degree at the Guildhall School of Music in London and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree at the Julliard School of Music in New York, in a program that accepted a cohort of only six musicians.

Along the way, Joel has performed with Placido Domingo in Los Angeles, collaborated with Maestro Lorin Maazel at the Castleton Festival in Virginia, performed at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Centre, and played one of Beethoven’s pianos in the composer’s summerhouse in Austria.

Now he is a music professor at the SUNY Binghamton campus, where he is starting up a masters program in collaborative piano. “I’m pioneering new ground for SUNY,” Joel says. “It’s exciting. The university is a good fit for me,” Joel says. “Being on a liberal-arts campus again, I’ve come full circle.”


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