Joel Thompson is an Atlanta-based composer, conductor, pianist, and educator, best known for the choral work, Seven Last Words of the Unarmed, which was premiered in November 2015 by the University of Michigan Men’s Glee Club and Dr. Eugene Rogers and won the 2018 American Prize for Choral Composition. In August 2021 he premiered To Awaken the Sleeper in Boulder at the Colorado Music Festival; the piece sets the writings of James Baldwin to music. Thompson’s works have been performed by esteemed ensembles such as the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra, Atlanta Master Chorale, Los Angeles Master Chorale, EXIGENCE, and the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus. Currently a doctoral student at the Yale School of Music, Thompson was also a 2017 post-graduate fellow in Arizona State University’s Ensemble Lab/ Projecting All Voices Initiative and a composition fellow at the 2017 Aspen Music Festival and School, where he studied with composers Stephen Hartke and Christopher Theofanidis and won the 2017 Hermitage Prize. Thompson taught at Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School in Atlanta from 2015 to 2017, and also served as Director of Choral Studies and Assistant Professor of Music at Andrew College from 2013 to 2015. Thompson has a B.A. in Music and an M.M. in Choral Conducting, both from Emory University.
Andrea Davis Pinkney is the acclaimed librettist for the The Snowy Day opera, with composer Joel Thompson, a work based on the beloved bestselling classic by Ezra Jack Keats. The opera has been hailed by the New York Times for its ability to “change perceptions about Black identity and attract new audiences to opera.” Additionally, Andrea is the New York Times bestselling and award-winning author of numerous books. She is a four-time NAACP Image Award nominee, and has been inducted into the New York Writers Hall of Fame. She and her work are the subject of the Emmy-nominated film, Andrea Davis Pinkney: National Author Engagement. Ms. Pinkney is also the recipient of both the Regina Medal and the Kerlan Award, for her singular body of work and distinguished contribution to the field of literature. Ms. Pinkney has been named one of the “The 25 Most Influential People in Our Children’s Lives” by Children’s Health magazine, and is among The Network Journal’s “25 Most Influential Black Women in Business.” She is included in the “50 Over 50 Extraordinary Women” and “Women Who Light up the Arts Scene” power lists in Good Housekeeping and Woman’s Day magazines.