James Poulsen teaches Music Theory, Aural Skills, Discovering Music, and Applied Piano for Simpson College. He also accompanies many students in daily rehearsals and semester recitals. He has taught Discovering Music for the Simpson Continuing and Grad Program for 23 years and has taught composition for Simpson and Grandview Colleges and privately.
Mr. Poulsen has had three orchestral works commissioned by the Des Moines Symphony. Heartland Poem was premiered by the Des Moines Symphony on October 25, 2008. The work was also performed at the Symphony’s Yankee Doodle Pops outdoor concert on July 2, 2009 for of an audience of over 100,000. His Five Poems of Edgar Allan Poe for tenor and orchestra was premiered in 1999 with an encore of his art song, ‘My North, My South’. Poulsen’s Piano Concerto was premiered in February of 2002. The pianist was Joseph Kalichstein, the chamber music director for Lincoln Center in New York City. His orchestral works have also been performed by the Dubuque Symphony and the Waltham Philharmonic in the Boston area.
Poulsen composes many art songs, which are often performed at Simpson and other schools throughout the country. He recently composed ‘Famous Last Words’, based on the last words of 26 well-known people. Another new work is ‘A Note to Robert Browning’, which will be performed this spring at Simpson. In 2007 he composed a work for men’s chorus entitled ‘Men’, for the 90th anniversary of the Pi Chapter at Simpson College. He is currently orchestrating two of his newer art songs for performance this spring at a Simpson Gala concert. Poulsen is also working on a concert band version of his Heartland Poem, an opera based on the life of Poe, plus new art songs: ‘Happy the Lab’rer in his Sunday Clothes’, by Jane Austen, and ‘The Suicide’s Soliloquy’, by Abraham Lincoln. Poulsen’s works are published by Kenwood Press and LSS Publishing.
James Poulsen is also a freelance composer and songwriter, residing in Des Moines. In the past few years he wrote and produced tracks for an Iowa State Marching Band video, Maid-Rite Corporation, Bang Bang Mongolian Grill, and Time to Spare. From 1990-2003 he wrote and produced music for hundreds of local and regional commercials and corporate videos for companies such as The Walt Disney Company, Pioneer, Maytag, Farm Bureau, The Principal, Prairie Meadows, Mercy and Methodist Hospitals, The Des Moines Register, Medicap, and Hy-Vee Food Stores. He produced and arranged music for conventions and sales meetings throughout the country for Disney Event Productions for such companies as Butler Manufacturing, Williams Communications, INACOM Computers, EMC/Mass., Liz Claiborne, Beneficial Finance, Lucent Technologies and The California Board of Tourism. Poulsen has scored a full-length horror film entitled ‘Devoured’, which was shown at the 2005 Cannes Film Festival.
Mr. Poulsen holds a B.A. in Piano from Buena Vista College and a M.M. in Piano from the University of South Dakota. He finished 3 years of doctoral studies in piano and composition at the University of Iowa. His piano teachers were Dennis Ondroceck, John Simms, Caio Pagano, and Arthur Greene. He studied composition with Stephen Yarbrough at USD plus Richard Hervig and world re-known avant-garde composer Kenneth Gaburo at the University of Iowa. One of his hobbies is playing jazz piano gigs all over Iowa from solo, trio, and quartet gigs to ‘Big Bands,’ including The Ballyhoo Foxtrot Orchestra (which is led by Simpson music professor Dr. John Benoit),The John Morgan Orchestra, and the Steve Charlson Trio.
James Poulsen has won 11 national Telly awards and 21 Iowa Addy awards for music in advertising. He won first prize in the 1985 Presbyterian Metro Ministries of Omaha Sacred Composition Contest with his choral work, Alleluia, Gloria, which was performed by the Simpson Choir in 2002. He won Best Score at the Iowa Motion Picture Awards four times, including 2005 for his score for “The Iowa Experience”, which is shown continuously at the Iowa Hall of Pride in Des Moines. James Poulsen is a member of ASCAP. In 2009 and 2010 he received ASCAPlus Awards in recognition of performances of his original compositions.
In 2011, he made a faculty cameo appearance as ‘Frosch’ the jailer in the Simpson Opera production of Die Fledermaus.