Joel M. Rinsema, Director of Music and Technology in Worship, began at First Plymouth in summer of 2017 as Director of Music. With over 25 years in music ministry he served as Director of Music at Church of the Beatitudes UCC in Phoenix for over 15 years. Prior to that he had served in similar positions at Scottsdale Congregational UCC and Sunnyslope Presbyterian Church. He holds music degrees from Whitworth University in Spokane, WA (where he conducted the Chapel Choir) and Arizona State University in Tempe, AZ.
He grew up in the small conservative Dutch town of Lynden, WA, where he was known to frequently question his Calvinistic upbringing in the Christian Reformed Church. Now he is happy to be UCC through and through.
Joel is also the Managing Artistic Director of the premier Denver choral group Kantorei. He joined Kantorei in 2014, becoming the second conductor in its history. During his tenure, Kantorei has experienced tremendous growth of its audiences, nearly tripled its budget size, and launched an ambitious recording strategy.
A frequent collaborator and champion of new works for chorus, Joel has commissioned and premiered work of many of today’s leading composers including Kim André Arnesen, Mason Bates, René Clausen, Ola Gjeilo, Jocelyn Hagen, Mark Hayes, Cecilia McDowall, David Montoya, Sarah Quartel, Jake Runestad and Eric Whitacre. In the summer of 2018, Joel conducted the Central American premiere of Ola Gjeilo’s “Dreamweaver” in Guatemala City and Antigua, Guatemala with Capella Cantorum de Guatemala.
Joel is a passionate advocate for the professional choral art form, and he frequently consults with other choral arts organizations around the country. Because of his leadership in his field, he received the Louis Botto Award for “Innovative Action and Entrepreneurial Zeal” from Chorus America, the industry’s advocacy, research, and leadership development organization for choruses, choral leaders, and singers.
He is an accomplished conductor of major works for choir and orchestra and was one of eighteen conductors chosen nationally through audition to participate in master classes and workshops presented by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association and Chorus America. As a tenor soloist, Joel performed across the United States, in Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic.
Joel served for three and a half years as the North American Choral Promotion Manager for Oxford University Press based in Oxford, England. He is a member of the Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (Grammys), American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) and Colorado Music Educators Association (CMEA).
Joel came to Denver from the Grammy Award-winning Phoenix Chorale. Throughout his 23-year tenure with the Phoenix Chorale, he served in nearly every capacity with the organization including the last 15 years as President & CEO and Assistant Conductor. He negotiated an ongoing recording contract with the prestigious U.K.-based Chandos Records, and Phoenix Chorale recordings earned a total of eight Grammy nominations and two Grammy wins during his tenure. Joel appears on all of the Phoenix Chorale recordings and was a soloist on the Grammy Award-winning “Spotless Rose: Hymn to the Virgin Mary.” He was also the founding chorus master of the Arizona Musicfest Chorus and was an adjunct faculty member at Glendale (AZ) Community College.
He has two adult children, Rachel and Derek Rinsema. He and his wife Sarah Harrison, director of choirs at Cherry Creek HS, and stepson Simon and miniature dachshund Lucia live in Centennial, CO. They enjoy golfing, camping, fishing, skiing and traveling.