Joel Navarro

Joel Navarro

Joel Navarro
Professor (Capella Conductor, Campus Choir Conductor, Oratorio Society Conductor), Music
(616) 526-8749
CF 168

Educational Background

  • D.M.A., Choral Conducting, Michigan State University, 2005
  • M.M., Choral Conducting, University of the Philippines, 1993
  • B.M., Choral Conducting, University of the Philippines, 1985
  • M.S., Mathematics Credits, Ateneo de Manila University (Philippines), 1978
  • B.A., Mathematics, University of St. La Salle (Philippines), 1976

Biographical Information

Joel Navarro is Professor of Music at Calvin College where he teaches conducting and directs Calvin College Capella, Oratorio Society, and Campus Choir. Prior to this appointment at Calvin College, he served sixteen years as an assistant professor and one-time Chair of the Choral Conducting Department at the University of the Philippines College of Music. He is known internationally as the former Music Director and Conductor of the Ateneo de Manila University Glee Club which has amassed a string of top prizes during the last 20 years in choral competitions in Cantonigros (1983) and Tolosa (2000) in Spain, Arezzo (1983) and Riva del Garda (2000) in Italy, Llubljana (2000) in Slovenia, Cork (2000) in Ireland, Tours (2000) in France, and Marktoberdorf (2001) in Germany. He conducted Capella for two ACDA State Conventions in 2004 and 2007, and a performance with VocalEssence in 2007. In the summer of 2008, he led Calvin College Capella to two 3rd prizes in the Florilége Vocal de Tours international choral competition.

As the recipient of numerous awards in performance and education in his native Philippines, he is widely known as a conductor, educator, clinician, lecturer, writer, singer, recording artist, composer, arranger, stage actor, record producer, and music consultant. He was Vice-Chairman of the Philippine Federation for Choral Music and the Main Consultant for the College Choir Division of the National Music Competitions for Young Artists. His choirs have performed with the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra for national television, state receptions, and national and international choir festivals. In August of 2002, he was one of 31 scholars to lecture at the 6th World Symposium of Choral Music held in Minneapolis.

Navarro finished a degree in Mathematics before returning to complete his Bachelor and Master of Music degrees in Choral Conducting at the University of the Philippines where he also taught undergraduate and graduate courses in conducting, choral literature, chorus classes, recital, and music theory. He obtained his Doctor of Musical Arts in Conducting at Michigan State University where he studied under Drs. Charles Smith, Jonathan Reed, and David Rayl.

An active performer of music from different eras and ethnic traditions, he takes an ardent interest in post-modern music and the music traditions and liturgies of the world. He went to Manila, Jakarta, and Singapore in the summer of 2006 to hold a series of conferences on worship, choral music, and conducting technique. His articles on Philippine Choral Music and Music in the Philippine Protestant Church have appeared in the International Federation for Choral Music Bulletin and in Dr. Anne C. Kwantes' book "Chapters in Philippine Church History." His review on The Cambridge Companion to Conducting appeared in the Nineteenth-Century Music Journal. Occasionally, he is called upon to deliver lectures in Asian Choral Music in Midwest conferences and conventions.

A guest conductor for festivals and honor choir conventions in Asia, he gets occasional invitations to lead choral festivals, workshops, and conferences here in the U.S. He counts Reynaldo Paguio, Francisco Feliciano, and Martin Behrmann as his early mentors. He has attended workshops under Eric Ericsson, Robert Sund, Stephen Cleobury, Gregory Rose, Laszlo Heltay, Frieder Bernius, Gyorgy Gulyas, and Jürgen Jürgens.

His other passion is composition. He continues to write and arrange hymns, anthems, art and concert music for professional, university, community, and church choirs. From time to time, he gets offers to write songs and produce solo albums for the Philippine music industry. His sabbatical project in the spring of 2011 compiled and edited a collection of new Philippine hymns and anthems in English for international publication as a sourcebook for emerging multicultural congregations in the United States and churches in the Filipino Diaspora.

Academic Interests

  • Choral and Orchestral Conducting in Pedagogy and Performance, Vocal Performance and Pedagogy, Choral Organization, Choral Workshop, Choral Clinic, Music Consultancy, Orchestration, Choral Composition, Choral and Minus One Arrangements, CD Production, Studio Recording, Album Production, Music Administration.
  • Completed 2 undergraduate degrees in Mathematics and Music, and 1 graduate degree in Music. Took up graduate units in Mathematics.
  • Proficient in KORG 01W, Roland XP80 and Roland MC50 applications.

Honors and Awards


  • Third Prize, Mixed Choir Category, Florilege Vocal de Tours, France, 2008
  • Third Prize, Free Category, Florilege Vocal de Tours, France, 2008

Music Ministry Experience

  • Minister of Music, Hope Reformed Church, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2002-2008


  • Fellow, Nagel Institute for World Christianity. Sabbatical Grant for Sproing 2011
  • Sabbatical Grant, Calvin Alumni Association, Spring 2011

Selected Publications


  • Contributor, Andre de Quadros’ article on Asian Choral Music for The Oxford Companion to Choral Music.


  • Non Nobis Domine. For SSAATTBB a cappella choir. Composed in 2001. Published by Adoro Music Publishing, 2011.
  • Sing to the Lord a New Song. For SSAATTBB a cappella choir, 1993. Revised 2009. Published by Adoro Music Publishing, 2010.

Choral Compositions (recorded and released)

  • Sing to the Lord a New Song. Composed in 1995, recorded in 2010, and is included in Capella’s A Hope and a Future CD, released November 2010.
  • Psalm 131. Composed in 2005, recorded in June 2006 and is included in Capella’s Jubilate! CD, released in November 2006.


  • A Hope and a Future,with Calvin College Capella, 2010.
  • Jubilate! with Calvin College Capella, 2006.
  • I See the Dawn, 2006.

Selected Performances and Exhibitions


  • Conductor, Calvin College Capella, 2002-present
  • Conductor, Calvin College Meistersingers, 2002-2003
  • Conductor, Calvin College Lyric Singers, 2003-2008
  • Conductor, Calvin College Oratorio Society, Grand Rapids, December 2003 to present
  • Choir Director, Hope Reformed Church, Grand Rapids. 2002-2008

Choir Singer

  • Bass Section Leader, Grace Episcopal Church, 2010-present
  • Bass, Evangelical Choral Society, 2010-present
  • Bass/Alto, Calvin College Collegium Musicum. Fall 2011-present
  • Bass, Bach Chorale Grand Rapids, Fall 2008

Guest Performances

  • Guest Conductor, Bamboo Organ International Festival, Las Piñas, Rizal, Philippines,  February, 2011
  • Guest Conductor, Interscholastic Association of Southeast Asian Schools Music and Art Convention, Manila,  March, 2010

Professional Services

  • Invited Lecturer, Global Hymns, Calvin Worship Symposium, Jan. 2010
  • Session Contributor, Singing Together — with Christians from East and West, North and South, Young and Old, All together, Calvin Worship Symposium, Jan. 2010
  • Invited Lecturer, Worship Music in the Philippines and in the Filipino Diaspora, Wheaton College, October, 2010
  • Panelist, Colloquium on Singing with the Psalms, Prince Conference Center, June, 2010
  • Invited Lecturer, Asian Choral Music, American Choral Directors Association (Michigan State Conference), Oct. 2009
  • Workshop Clinician, “The Art of Conducting,” Calvin College, July 2009

Professional Associations

  • Member, Multicultural Affairs Committee, Calvin College, 2005-present
  • Board Member-at-Large, Christian Reformed World Relief Committee, 2011-present
  • Member, Editorial Board of CRC-RCA Hymnal, 2006-present
  • Board Member, Asian Health Outreach Foundation, 2002-2010
  • Chair, Repertoire and Standards, College and University, American Choral Directors Association – Michigan, 2002-2003
  • Vice-President, Philippine Federation for Choral Music, 1996-2001
  • Member, American Choral Directors Association, 2001- present
  • International Federation for Choral Music, 1989-present