Randall Shinn composes theater and concert music. Trained as a performer (M.Mus., French horn, University of Colorado), Shinn began composing music in his teens. He was self taught as a composer until entering the doctoral program at the University of Illinois, where he studied with Ben Johnston.
Reviewers have called Shinn’s music lyrical, passionate, and lusciously beautiful. Other reviewers have described his works as stunning, spellbinding, and powerfully expressive. One reviewer wrote that Shinn integrates “modern music and language with more familiar classical styles to create a sound that is uniquely his own.”
One writer noted that “Much of Shinn's music has a sensation of physical motion and a sensuality not unlike rock or folk music.” Another writer suggested that such qualities stem from Shinn’s wide musical interests.
Shinn’s interests as a music listener are broad—he might dance to a blues band one night and attend an opera production the next. So he finds it natural to write music with unexpected combinations of material. The influences on his music are just as broad, and his manner of dealing with these multiple influences has become a distinctive musical fingerprint.—Peter Laki, program notes for the Phoenix Symphony
As a writer Shinn has penned original librettos for three operas, and has received grant support from the NEA as both a librettist and a composer. His interest in the theater spills over into a general interest in imagination and magical atmosphere. For two years he was chief correspondent for DeepGlamour.net, where he wrote posts about various aspects of glamour (including its older meaning of enchantment and magic).