JoAnne Harris' list of accomplishments is extensive for being only 10 years out of Concordia.
Among her successes, she has composed music for short films, worked as a music associate on a Broadway production, conducted at the Lincoln Center, studied at Juilliard, traveled and worked in China, and her music has accompanied six years of crime news stories on "Dateline" and "20/20."
A native of Fairfield, Iowa, Harris graduated from Concordia in 2006 with a degree in music education. A member of The Concordia Choir, she had a weekly class with Dr. René Clausen her senior year. She and a small group of students would meet with Clausen to score study music. Harris was amazed by their study of a Bach cantata, BWV 140. The experience she gained in that class was important to her and ultimately had an impact on her professional life.
"Concordia was a great launching pad for me," she says. "I was inspired by the professors in the music department; their hunger and passion for reaching a mastery of music themselves created such a wonderful environment for learning and creating."
I was inspired by the professors in the music department; their hunger and passion for reaching a mastery of music themselves created such a wonderful environment for learning and creating. – JoAnne Harris
After graduating, Harris eventually moved to New York City and began developing her extensive resume. She lists her trip to Shenzhen, China, as one of her personal highlights; she was there during the summer months of 2014 to write music for a theatre production. She loves composing scores for short films but also has experience composing for and orchestrating TV shows, commercials and longer movies. She was a composer for the 2015 Hallmark Channel's holiday movie "Crown for Christmas" and has orchestrated scores for "Beethoven's Treasure Tail" (2014) and "The Little Rascals Save the Day" (2014).
However, she states her most rewarding project so far (besides writing music for short films) has been her work as the lead orchestrator and the conductor of live recording sessions for the 2016 film "The Infiltrator," starring Bryan Cranston and Diane Kruger.
"The hours I spent in the booth conducting these session players was really phenomenal because the playing was almost always perfect on the first pass," she says. "This gave us an opportunity to dig deeper to create a truly nuanced and gorgeous sound. It was a highlight and will remain one for some time, I expect."
Now Harris has plans to focus on music of her own. She is working on recording an album of string quintets and will soon head to Minneapolis to conduct the Pop-Up Choir led by Jon Guyton and containing a few Cobber friends with whom she looks forward to reconnecting. The choir will also be premiering one of Harris' original choral works.
Ali Froslie '18 is an English major at Concordia.