Randall Shinn composes operas and concert music. His works merge materials from a range of vernacular and cultivated traditions. Reviewers have called his works “passionate'” “lyrical,” and “spellbinding.” Other reviewers have described his works as “lusciously beautiful” and “powerfully expressive.” One reviewer wrote he integrates “modern music and language with more familiar classical styles to create a sound that is uniquely his own.”

One writer felt this aspect of Shinn’s music reflects his 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.

Shinn has written original librettos for three operas and collaborated on a fourth. He has received grant support from the NEA as both a librettist and a composer.

Shinn's interest in the theater links to a general interest in imagination and magical atmosphere. For two years he was a chief correspondent for Virginia Postrel’s group blog DeepGlamour, where he wrote posts about various aspects of glamour (including its older meaning of enchantment and magic). His Musings on this site touch on some of his aesthetic interests. More information about some performances of his works is available in his bio.