Joel Clifft

Adjunct Instructor

  • Program:
    Keyboard Collaborative Arts
  • Division:
    Classical Performance and Composition
  • Instrument:


Joel Clifft earned his Doctorate from USC Thornton while studying with Dr. Alan Smith and Bernadene Blaha. Dr. Clifft’s primary area of study was keyboard collaborative arts, with minor fields in solo piano, music theory and composition. He graduated Pi Kappa Lambda and was chosen as the “Most Outstanding Graduate” at both the Masters and Doctoral levels. Dr. Clifft attended USC on a full scholarship and in addition, was a recipient of the Gwendolyn Koldofsky scholarship.

As an active collaborative pianist, he has performed in concert with such world-class musicians as violinist Midori and erhu player Ma Xiaohui. He also has performed with the Foothill Philharmonic Society, the Debut Orchestra, the Brand Library Concert Series, the Lake Avenue Chamber Orchestra and the Idyllwild Faculty Concert. He is sought after by many singers and instrumentalists and gives about 50 concerts per year of new repertoire. Dr. Clifft has also been engaged for many master classes, including those given by the Jascha Heifitz society, Alice and Eleonore Schoenfeld, Martin Katz and Midori.

Dr. Clifft is the director of keyboard studies at Azusa Pacific University, where he oversees the entire keyboard department, including all piano and organ majors. He has a strong passion for chamber music and is highly sought after as a chamber music coach for talented students. He also teaches many applied piano students, both to piano majors and non-majors. In addition, he teaches music theory and ear training courses. Dr. Clifft is also an adjunct faculty member at USC where he teaches collaborative piano to all undergraduate piano majors.

Additionally, he has extensive international performance experience, appearing in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, England, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark and Korea, China and Singapore.