Justin Rito (b. 1986) composes energetic and eclectic concert music inspired by both classical and popular culture. In his music you’ll hear dense expressionism, rock-inspired grooves, stark simplicity, and the intersections that can result from their combinations.
Creatively, Justin loves the collaborative process and the constant challenges and rewards that come with it. Recent commissions have included At Heart for solo marimba for a consortium (2017), All Set for two percussionists for the Arx Duo (2016), Zero Circle for euphonium and live electronics for Danielle Vantuinen (2016), and Lost Lines for solo tuba and four percussionists for the Tuba Bach Festival (2015). Justin is currently working with flutist Jenni Shanahan on a work called Escape Cycles. Justin also recently started exploring open improvisation as a creative outlet, and looks forward to expanding his experience with it over the coming years.
Justin is an energetic supporter of new music, and is committed to bringing contemporary music to new audiences in a way that promotes casual interactions with the repertory. Justin founded “Unwind” in East Lansing, Michigan, a series of casual performances of contemporary music in bars. He also served as the musical coordinator for the Sonic Salon series at the Broad Art Museum in East Lansing, and founded the Central Michigan University New Music Ensemble as a student in 2010.
Justin began his musical training as a pianist, and remains an active collaborative performer. Having always enjoyed popular music, he began exploring composition as a creative outlet through song-writing, and eventually turned to concert music during his undergraduate studies in music education at Alma College. He went on to study composition with David Gillingham and Jay Batzner at Central Michigan University, and recently completed his DMA with Ricardo Lorenz at Michigan State University. Justin also studied privately with David Maslanka in 2013, and attended the fresh inc festival run by the Fifth House Ensemble in 2015. In addition to his formal training in composition, Justin received a Masters degree in Music Theory from the University of Western Ontario in 2013, and has recently presented research at conferences for the College Music Society, Manchester New Music Festival, and the International Conference on Minimalism in Helsinki, Finland.
Justin has taught at Hope College, Michigan State University and Alma College, and is excited to be join the faculty at Johnson State College in Johnson, Vermont in the fall of 2017. When he is not composing or practicing, you’ll find him running around his home of Grand Rapids, Michigan, hiking with his wife Erika and their dog Arvo, reading Kurt Vonnegut, or home brewing and drinking a craft beer.