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Member of the Year

About Dr. Joseph Welch

Joseph Welch’s musical versatility and supportive collaborative spirit have made him a highly valued pianist, coach, and teacher.  A sensitive collaborator, Welch has a thriving career in the vocal arts.  He trains young singers through the Opera Theatre of St. Louis Artists-in-Training program and performs in concert with Opera Edwardsville.  As a choral accompanist, he plays for the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra’s IN UNISON Chorus under the direction of Maestro Kevin McBeth.  Other recent choral accompanying credits include the SLSO’s Holiday Festival Chorus and St. Louis Children’s Choirs’ Young Men’s Chorus.  Since 2019, Welch has served as Assistant Music Director for Variety Theatre, a one-of-a-kind musical theatre company featuring an inclusive children’s ensemble.  Additionally, he is the founder and artistic director of St. Louis Art Song.


Welch serves as Professor of Music at Blackburn College, where he wrote the curriculum for a new B.A. in Music.  The course of instruction is artist-centric and prepares pianists and singers to launch successful performing careers.  The foundation of the curriculum is rooted in Welch’s doctoral project, “Collaborative Piano in Higher Education”.  The concepts have been presented in both workshop and presentation form as “The Business of Being a Pianist”, which Welch has shared with the Illinois State Music Teachers Association and local chapters of the MTNA.


Welch was a 2021 Intern with the National Association of Teachers of Singing.  He has been named Gateway Arch East (ISMTA) Member of the Year and Adjunct Instructor of the Year at Blackburn College.  Continuing an active presence in the communities he grew up in, Welch serves on the boards of Southern Illinois Young Artist Organization and Bunker Hill Education Foundation.

Beginning in fall 2022, Blackburn College will offer a new bachelor of arts degree in music with specializations in piano and voice performance. This innovative academic program, which will be distinctive to Blackburn, is designed to prepare students with music performance skills and provide in-depth entrepreneurial knowledge needed to launch professional careers in the music industry.


Dr. Joseph Welch, professor of music at Blackburn, explained that the new music major “is a complete reimagining of music at Blackburn” and he emphasized that no other college in the area offers this type of degree. He said, “While most music degrees are focused exclusively on only refining performance skills, Blackburn’s program will include this traditional content plus classes on entrepreneurial skills a student needs within the field. The program is modeled by real-world career experiences. Students will have business competence to enter the workforce upon completion of their undergraduate degrees. It will be enhanced by Blackburn’s state-of-the-art performance facilities, the current faculty, and the college’s unique student-led work program. It’s an individualized educational environment not found in most schools. Our mission is to nurture students into graduates with income-producing skills.”


As part of this reimagined degree, Blackburn will embed entrepreneurship throughout a student’s entire college experience, helping to build a variety of essential tools for an evolving music industry. Welch added, “The curriculum will provide our students with the opportunity to produce their own quality brands, marketing tools, social media presences, websites, headshots, and press kits. Students will learn how to manage their finances as a freelance artist, including budgeting for inconsistent income and filing taxes as an independent contractor.” For the final senior project, each student will be responsible for launching their business plan and incorporating the music planned for their senior recital. 


“Additional activities planned to support this new major will create a more vibrant cultural life for the campus, and the surrounding community,” Welch said, “Guest artists will be invited to perform at the college. These guests also will conduct master classes in which students will perform and receive feedback. The Blackburn concert series is planned to include a fall event in October with performances highlighting upcoming concerts throughout the year. In November, the department will produce opera/musical theatre scenes. This new event will be a formal, gala-like evening allowing students the opportunity to perform in a staged production. Also, the community will be invited to join members of the choir for a Christmas caroling event in early December. Christmas at Blackburn will round out the Fall semester retaining all of our campus’ characteristic traditions. The spring events at Blackburn will include a recital in March and music and theatre majors producing a student musical in April. The final event for the school year will be a choral concert.”


For additional information, interested individuals may contact Dr. Joseph Welch at

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