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Joel Clarkson


Hometown: Monument, Colorado
Education: BM in Composition, Berklee College of Music
MLitt, ITIA, University of St Andrews

Thesis Topic
Under the supervision of George Corbett and Michael Ferguson, I am examining the cosmological and eucharistic underpinnings of Joseph Ratzinger’s theology of sacred music. A number of prominent Catholic composers have attributed aspects of their creative approach to the musical theology of the Pope Emeritus, especially identifying then-Cardinal Ratzinger’s 2000 book The Spirit of the Liturgy as an influence to this end. I am attempting to understand this musical theology in how it responds to 20th-century Catholic liturgical and musical reform, and how it is situated within Ratzinger’s larger theological system. 

Further Academic Interests
I am broadly interested in Christian cosmology, and especially in the areas of early Christian liturgical theology, and ressourcement of that Patristic thought in contemporary Catholic theology. It is via that topic that I also am invested in ongoing conversations about nature and grace in philosophical theology. I have a related interest in various ways that music overlaps with spirituality, especially in regard to contemporary sacred music, but also in the film score, in video games, and in popular music.

Other Information
My interest in theology and sacred music emerges from a decade and a half of professional pursuit as a composer, orchestrator, and conductor, for film, TV, and sacred music. I have a special passion for writing sacred music for liturgy, and have composed widely in that format, from Mass settings to ancient Christian hymns. 

Contact us

School of Divinity
St Mary's College
St Andrews
KY16 9JU
Fife, Scotland, UK

Phone: +44 (0)1334 462850