R.J. composed the music, wrote the lyrics, and collaborated with David Scoville to create the book for the musical Golden Horseshoe, a celebration of West Virginia's history and heritage that premiered October 24, 2013, in the Metropolitan Theatre in Morgantown. Audiences were so enthusiastic that there will be a statewide tour in Sept./Oct. 2014. Look for it near you! R.J. and David have written two other musicals: Love's Sick and By the Stars.
Also with David, R.J. has penned several screenplays. Out of the Depths is about the 1968 coal mine disaster in Farmington, West Virginia. Seventy-eight miners were trapped inside for ten days while rescuers fought fires, methane, and more explosions, trying to reach them. On the tenth day, the day after Thanksgiving, the mine was sealed with the seventy-eight still inside. One of their other screenplays, Kerry Pickens, is a comedy/mystery featuring a sweet naive pet photographer who has to think like a detective to solve her best friend's murder.
R.J. has music directed 70 musical theatre productions since 2000, including The Sound of Music, West Side Story, and My Fair Lady with West Virginia Public Theatre, Assassins and Children of Eden at the Robert Morris University Colonial Theatre in Pittsburgh, and Bat Boy at West Virginia University. He has appeared onstage in Camelot (Lancelot), Seussical (Horton), The Full Monty (Marty), and The Will Rogers Follies (Wiley Post), among others.
A private voice teacher since 2001, R.J. has taught hundreds of students. He was twice selected by outstanding high-school sophomore students as their most influential arts instructor when they were attending the West Virginia Governor's School for the Arts. His students focus on consistent breathing and relaxed, open space, finding and developing their natural voices in the process. He also is a professional piano accompanist, serving many West Virginia University voice majors since 2005.
R.J. has composed incidental music for productions of Brecht's The Caucasian Chalk Circle, Strindberg’s The Ghost Sonata, Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale, and the Glitterati Productions Chicago premiere of Ken Ludwig's Moon Over Buffalo. His classical compositions have been performed at venues in the United States and Europe.
R.J. is the Director of Liturgical Music at St. Luke the Evangelist Catholic Church in Morgantown, following ten years of service as the Minister of Music at First Presbyterian Church in Fairmont, West Virginia. He served for two seasons as Interim and Associate Conductor of the North Pittsburgh Philharmonic, and he conducted the West Virginia University Community Arts Orchestra from 2002 - 2004.
R.J. holds an undergraduate degree in Music Composition, with an emphasis in Voice, and a graduate degree in Performance: Conducting, both from West Virginia University. He and his wife Elisha reside in Morgantown, WV, with their lovely daughter Daisy.