Shawn L. Kirchner
Shawn Kirchner (b.1970) is a composer and songwriter active in the musical circles of Los Angeles. His choral
compositions are performed throughout the United States and abroad. He is best known for his arrangement of
the Kenyan song Wana Baraka. The Los Angeles Master Chorale has often presented Kirchner's choral pieces
in their concerts at LA's Walt Disney Concert Hall, and also commissioned his 2007 setting of the Pablo Neruda
sonnet, Tu Voz. The Master Chorale's final concert of the 2009/2010 season featured a premiere of his most
recent arrangements, Heavenly Home: Three American Songs, which received mention in the LA Times concert
review as "effectively" written works of "sophistication." In addition to composing, songwriting has become a
career focus for Kirchner in recent years. His songs combine emotional warmth with carefully crafted lyrics,
and are written in a range of styles including bluegrass, folk, country, gospel and jazz. Kirchner's bluegrass and
country songs can be heard on the CD Meet Me on the Mountain, and his original jazz tunes are featured in club
and concert performances of the Shawn Kirchner Quartet.
Kirchner also maintains an active performing career as a singer and pianist. A tenor with the Los Angeles
Master Chorale, he sings regularly with the Chorale and the Los Angeles Philharmonic at Disney Hall and
at the Hollywood Bowl in collaborations with the world's leading conductors and composers. Under the
Master Chorale’s music director Grant Gershon, he has sung in several projects with Steve Reich, including
two recordings for Nonesuch Records and a performance at Lincoln Center in honor of the composer’s 70th
birthday. His solo appearances with the Master Chorale include work with Meredith Monk, Ariel Ramirez’
Missa Criolla, and Arvo Part's Miserere. Kirchner's work as a pianist includes performances with the Master
Chorale at Disney Hall and on tour as well as free-lance work in recitals, concerts, and studio sessions. Before
moving to the Los Angeles area, he was a vocal coach/pianist in Chicago, and played for Neil Rosenshein’s
studio at the Lyric Opera’s Center for American Artists. Initially trained in classical music, his improvisational
skills now encompass many styles.
Kirchner's growing list of TV/Film credits includes his work as music director/arranger for the 2004 CBS
Christmas Eve special Enter the Light of Life, and his singing on such feature film soundtracks as Avatar, X-
Men Origins: Wolverine, Horton Hears a Who, National Treasure II: Book of Secrets, Lady in the Water,
License to Wed, Race to Witch Mountain, Sex in the City II, The Rite, and X-Men: First Class.
Kirchner was raised with his triplet brother and sister in Cedar Falls, Iowa. His principal piano teachers were
Joan Smalley and George Katz, and Susan Beasley and Graeme Cowen were his mentors in choral music.
He studied at Manchester College, where he earned a BA in Peace Studies under Kenneth Brown, and was
mentored in songwriting by the poet/songwriter Steve Kinzie. He spent his junior year abroad, studying Chinese
language, literature, history and music at the Dalian Foreign Language Institute in Dalian, China. He earned an
MA in Choral Conducting from the University of Iowa, where he studied with William Hatcher and Richard
Bloesch. In recent years, Kirchner has been mentored in choral arranging and music philosophy by Alice
Shawn L. Kirchner has 13 titles published with Santa Barbara.
Click on any title below to view the complete score and hear a recording if available.