Reviewers have described Randall Shinn’s music as “lyrical,” “compelling,” and “lusciously beautiful.” His compositions range in mood from witty to fiercely passionate, and reviewers have praised their expressive power, calling them “stunning” and “spell-binding.”
Shinn’s music is deeply rooted in the traditions of Western art music. But he loves playing with language, so his works often incorporate elements tied to vernacular traditions like American roots music and Latin American music. This mixture of influences has led to what reviewer called “a sound that is uniquely his.”
His orchestral music has been performed by the Phoenix Symphony, ProMusica Chamber Orchestra of Columbus, Mesa Symphony, Flagstaff Symphony, Arizona State University, and the Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies. His operas have been staged by Arizona State University, New Mexico State University, and the University of Colorado. His choral, vocal, and chamber works have been performed in the United States and Europe. He has received support from the National Endowment for the Arts (as both librettist and composer), the Arizona Commission on the Arts, and ASCAP.
Shinn began composing music as a teenager, but until his mid-20s his primary focus was mastering the French horn. In 1968 he completed a master’s degree in performance at the University of Colorado, and then spent four years in the Air Force during the Vietnam War. While performing in the Air Force Academy Band and the Colorado Springs Symphony, he began composing music in earnest. He completed a doctorate in music composition in 1975 at the University of Illinois, taught for three years at the University of New Orleans, and then joined the faculty of Arizona State University. He retired from university teaching in 2006 to compose and write full time.
Shinn has had composer residencies at New Mexico State University, the University of Colorado, Montalvo, Ucross, and Brush Creek Ranch. He now resides in Fort Collins, Colorado with his wife, visual artist Carol Shinn. As a writer Shinn has written original librettos for three operas, and has been a correspondent for DeepGlamour.net