Jamie Poulsen

Instructor of Music - Piano/Music Theory

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ARMC 106

     James Poulsen teaches Music Theory, Aural Skills, Discovering Music, and Applied Piano for Simpson College. He also accompanies many students in daily rehearsals and recitals. He has taught Discovering Music for the Simpson Continuing and Grad Program for 25 years and has taught composition for Simpson and Grandview Colleges and privately.

     Mr. Poulsen has had four works commissioned by private donors for 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 with 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 colleges throughout the country. His most recent works are ‘Happy the Lab’rer in his Sunday Clothes’, poem by Jane Austen, and ‘The Suicide’s Soliloquy’, poem attributed to Abraham Lincoln. Recent compositions include  ‘Famous Last Words’, based on the last words of 26 well-known people, and ‘A Note to Robert Browning.’ In 2007 he composed a work for men’s chorus entitled ‘Men’, for the 90th anniversary of the Pi Chapter at Simpson College. Orchestrated versions of two of his art songs were performed at the Simpson Gala Concert in spring, 2015, by Simpson voice faculty  members Virginia Croskery and Bruce Brown. Poulsen also completed a concert band version of his Heartland Poem which was performed by the Simpson Concert Band in Fall, 2016, under the direction of Dr. Michael Eckerty. 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 the Time to Spare Company. 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 Pharmacies, 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. His main hobby is playing jazz piano gigs all over Iowa from solo, trio, and quartet gigs to ‘Big Bands,’ including The Ballyhoo Foxtrot Orchestra and the Soya Vista Orchestra  (both of which are led by Simpson music professor Dr. John Benoit), The John Morgan Orchestra, and the Steve Charlson Trio. 

     James Poulsen has twice reached the semifinal round of the American Prize in Orchestral Composition, in 2014 and 2015. 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. Poulsen won Best Score at the Iowa Motion Picture Awards four times, including 2005 for his score for “The Iowa Experience”, which is still 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.He has won 11 national Telly awards and 21 Iowa Addy awards for music in advertising.

In 2011, he made a faculty cameo appearance as ‘Frosch’ the jailer in the Simpson Opera production of Die Fledermaus.


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