Joseph Rivers - Faculty & Adjuncts

Joseph Rivers, PhD

Joseph Rivers, PhD
Coordinator of Music Composition and Film Scoring Programs
J. Donald Feagin Professor of Music and Professor of Film
College of Arts & Sciences
Film Studies
918-631-3576 Website Lorton Performance Center Room 2210


PhD – University of Arizona MM – University of South Carolina BM – University of South Carolina


Joseph Rivers is J. Donald Feagin Professor of Music and Film Studies at the University of Tulsa, where he also chairs the Department of Film Studies and teaches and coordinates the music composition and film music scoring programs. His compositional project encompass concert, stage, and film. Recently he scored original dramatic music for the Emmy-nominated documentary film, "High Stakes: The Life and Times of E.W. Marland," about the famed Oklahoma depression-era oil man and his enigmatic wife Lydie. He also composed the original Music for Bo Bergstrom’s film, "Midsummer Night’s Dream." His music for the ballet, "Wahzhazhe: An Osage Ballet," portraying the story of the Osage Tribe, has been performed all over the region by the Osage Ballet since 2012 as well as at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, DC in 2013. Rivers’ first symphony, "Echoes of War—Visions of Peace," was commissioned and premiered by the Signature Symphony at TCC, and was recorded by the Kiev Philharmonic Orchestra for Vol. 15 of ERMMedia’s “Masterworks of the New Era” series. His Concerto for Oboe, English Horn and String Orchestra, perhaps the first concerto for these two solo instruments with string orchestra, was performed by the Signature Symphony at TCC in March 2018.
In addition to the Osage Ballet, Rivers has composed a number of Oklahoma-themed works: Symphony No. 2, "Oklahoma Peoples in Trial and Triumph," which recounts the Cherokee Trail of Tears, the discover of oil, and the 1921 Tulsa Race Riot, which was premiered by the Signature Symphony and Chorale and the Cherokee National Youth Choir in November 2011; "Lonely People of the Osage," a choral setting of words by Oklahoma poet and Pawhuska native Winston Weathers, which received its New York premiere by the Gregg Smith Singers; "Will Rogers Self-Portrait," for chorus and orchestra, commissioned for the Will Rogers Heritage, Inc. and the Claremore Community Chorus; Prairie Dreams, a one-act opera about pioneer Oklahoma; and Trio for Violin, Violoncello, and Piano, depicting the Oklahoma landscape through the eyes of a native warrior, which was commissioned by the Oklahoma Music Teachers Association during the Oklahoma state centennial in 2007.
Rivers has recently turned to internationally themed projects, including a recently commissioned new choral work for the Tulsa Oratorio Chorus entitled, "Every Man’s Land" (Le Pays de Tout Homme), commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Armistice ending World War I premiered in February 2019 by the Tulsa Oratorio Chorus Chamber Choir; and "Elegy for Babi Yar," commissioned by the Tulsa Council for Holocaust Education, which was premiered for the 2018 Tulsa Interfaith Holocaust Commemoration in April 2018.

Research Interests

Composed music for ballet, film, and concert performance, including music about Oklahoma historical events and people

Teaching Interests

Film Music, Film Scoring, Music Composition, Music Theory



  • The Fundamentals of Tonal Music: Concepts and Skills (textbook), Secret River Press.

Courses Taught

  • Music and Film
  • Compositional Recital Preparation
  • Film Scoring Workshop
  • Introduction to Film Scoring
  • Advanced Composition Vi
  • Composition IV
  • Composition Seminar

Professional Affiliations

  • Broadcast Music, Inc.
  • Phi Beta Kappa
  • College Music Society
  • Society of Composers and Lyricists
  • Sigma Alpha Iota National Associate

Awards & Honors

  • Oklahoma Commissioned Composer Award
  • Emmy Award Nominataion
  • Outstanding Teacher Award