Joseph Kemper is a conductor, educator, and composer who has worked with prison-outreach, neuro-atypical, professional, collegiate, secondary, youth, community, and church music programs and ensembles. He is currently the Visiting Assistant Professor of Music and Choirs at Whitman College for the 2021–2022 academic school year.
As a strong advocate for social justice through music, Kemper has been the artistic director of several benefit concerts in partnership with local community organizations including We the People of Detroit (Water Rights), Freedom House Detroit (Refugee Support), and Everytown for Gun Safety. Additionally, his time leading Out of the Blue, a prison outreach choir at the University of Michigan, further articulates his dedication and mission to enact restorative justice through choral music.
Kemper was the Associate Director of Choral Activities for five years at Winter Park High School in Florida. During his tenure, the advanced treble choir under his direction was selected to perform at the 2013 Florida American Choral Conductor’s Association convention.
Recent scholarship includes research on respectful cross-cultural engagement, Negro spirituals, choral repertoire by historically marginalized composers, choral conducting, and rehearsal pedagogy. His doctoral dissertation included the first in-depth analysis of Ted Hearne’s groundbreaking Pulitzer Prize finalist work, Sound from the Bench (2014).
Kemper holds a B.M. degree in music education from St. Olaf College in vocal music education where he graduated with departmental distinction, an M.M. degree in choral conducting from Yale University where he was awarded the inaugural Robert Shaw Prize, and a D.M.A. degree in choral conducting from the University of Michigan.