Dr. Justin Henry Rubin:
Prolific in a variety of artistic disciplines, Justin Rubin (b.1971), composer, organist/pianist, multimedia artist, and author, was initially educated under the tutelage of his father. He subsequently pursued formal training at the Manhattan School of Music Preparatory Division between 1986 and 1989, studying piano under Philip Kawin. He graduated from the State University of New York at Purchase in 1992 with the distinction of Summa Cum Laude where he studied composition, organ, and art history. Continuing at Purchase, Rubin graduated in 1994 with a Master of Fine Arts in composition while beginning to explore performance art and multimedia presentations.
Following a Fulbright Scholarship in organ musicology to Denmark in the Fall of 1994, Rubin was appointed Interim Choir Director and Organist at New York City's prestigious Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, where he began composing numerous choral and ensemble pieces for liturgical and concert usage. It was during this time that he started to bring together the rigor of his academic compositional training and a writing style that could communicate with a diverse audience.
This new tonal language was further developed during his three years in residence at the University of Arizona (1995-98) under the guidance of Daniel Asia while completing the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in composition. One piece exemplifying Rubin's compositional concerns that was completed during this period, the cantata David and Absalom, was distinguished with a BMI Student Composer Award (1997).
In 1998, Dr. Rubin was appointed Chair of Theory/Composition (with additional responsibilities in Music Technology and Organ/Piano) at the University of Minnesota Duluth where he currently holds the rank of Professor. In 1999, he spearheaded the formation of a New Music Festival at the University, with its first weeklong concert series in 2000. The success of this event prompted the school to establish it as an annual series, of which Rubin is the artistic director. In 2009 he was inducted into the Academy of Distinguished Teachers and honored with the Horace T. Morse-University of Minnesota Alumni Award for Outstanding Contributions to Undergraduate Education which represents the highest recognition by the University of its most distinguished scholar-teachers.
As a composer, Justin Rubin has established himself as an emerging voice, receiving over one hundred performances of his works across the country, as well as in Europe, South America, and Japan.
He has been chosen in consecutive years as a Minnesota Orchestra Perfect Pitch Composer by Pulitzer Prize winning composer Aaron Jay Kernis for his Passacaglia Tenebrosa (1999) and Symphonietta I (2000). In 2002, Richard Stoltzman performed the première of Rubin's Dedication and Fanfare for the opening of the Weber Music Hall in Minnesota. His cantata, From the Sonnets of Apology, was selected for the Plymouth Music Series: Essentially Choral reading sessions (2001-02). Rubin's works for violin and guitar have been performed throughout Europe by Duo46, and Duo Gastesi-Bezerra has championed Rubin's two-piano compositions, including the demanding Variations on "Deo Gracias" and À Rebours , in Spain, South America, and across the United States. Other chamber ensembles that have performed his music include the St. Paul based Zeitgeist, the Boston new music group Xanthos , Luna Nova New Music Ensemble in Tennessee, and The New York Miniaturist Ensemble . Rubin has been a featured composer at the Aspen Composers' Conference, the Hermoupolis Guitar Festival , and the Guitar Foundation of America Conference, and a retrospective of his chamber works was presented in 2004 at Palm Beach Atlantic University.
Regionally, in 1999 the Lake Superior Chamber Orchestra commissioned and premièred his Four Sketches of an American Past . Other production highlights include a chamber oratorio, Old Turtle , commissioned by the Matinee Musicale of Duluth, which had its première in 2000, and ten performances of Euripides' Bacchae by the UMD Theatre Department in 2001, for which Rubin composed Odes, Dances, and Airs.
As a performer, Rubin was the pianist in residence with the ST/X Ensemble Xenakis USA from 1994 to 2000, recording two CD's with the group (including solo works and concertos to critical acclaim) on the Mode and Vandenburg Wave labels and giving a live broadcast concert at Radio France in Paris in 1998. In May 2000, he performed Xenakis' first piano concerto, Synaphaï , with the Gulbenkian Festival Orchestra in Lisbon. Other composers that Rubin has given premières of in the United States include Kaikhosru Sorabji, Dary John Mizelle, and numerous student pieces.
Rubin has also concertized widely on organ, specializing in works of less heralded composers and always performing new pieces. In May, 1996, he was invited by Gerre Hancock to give an all-Hugo Distler organ recital at famed St. Thomas Church in New York City. In November, 2000, he was also invited by the American Guild of Organists to perform selections of J.S.Bach's Die Kunst der Fuge as part of the 250th Memorial Minnesota Bach Festival co-sponsored by National Public Radio's Pipedreams. In 2002 he was chosen to perform three times at the Church of St.Louis, King of France, noontime recital series, including the 2002-03 season opener. A long-time fan of silent film, he has recently turned his performance interests on organ to literature appropriate to this genre.
In the field of multimedia he has created numerous experimental music/videos. La Zarabanda, a 'video painting' that incorporates layers of altered footage fused with his piano work, Sarabande, was selected as one from 320 international entries for viewing and broadcast in 2007 by the Visual Music Marathon (Northeastern University). Following this success, the Institute for Advanced Study awarded Rubin with a grant to create a music score and film for a project titled "Music and Video: Temporal Disorientation and the Manipulation of Memory". The final form of this video, entitled The Pale Memory, was shown in both Minneapolis and Duluth. Other works include The Numbers of Genocide, which was a part of the Baeumler-Kaplan Holocaust Commemoration in 2004, the visual poem Stone Mandala, and the multimedia portrait/essay of a glass artist, Shaping Fragility: The Dream of Making Music from Sand.
As a painter, Rubin works primarily in the abstract, incorporating ideas established by Ad Reinhardt, Barnett Newman, Richard Diebenkorn, Leon Polk Smith, Ellsworth Kelly, and David Novros as well as concepts from traditional Japanese Fukeiga painting into a succession of distinct and evolving formal archetypes. In the field of writing, Rubin has composed poems and short stories, but finds his voice in his instruction-booklet-like performance art pieces that he describes as "game plans for understanding society."