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Dr. Joseph D. Van Riper

Professor of Music
Chair of the Music Department

Teaching Area



  • DMA, Instrumental and Choral Conducting, George Mason University
  • MM, Boston University
  • MM, Illinois State University
  • BA, Principia College


Dr. Joe Van Riper joined the faculty in 2010. He teaches conducting, American popular music and musical theatre, musicianship, and applied trumpet lessons. In addition, he directs the College orchestra, choir, jazz ensemble, and various vocal and instrumental chamber ensembles. Van Riper is an active performer on trumpet and piano, playing traditional jazz in the greater St. Louis area with multiple ensembles. He also serves as substitute organist for the St. Louis Blues in the National Hockey League. Prior to joining the faculty at Principia, Van Riper worked as a contractor for the Department of Justice.

During the 2016–2017 academic year, Van Riper co-directed a Principia abroad program to Vienna, Prague, and Paris, with a focus on music.

I was drawn to teach at Principia because I deeply value its focus on character education, which meant the world to me when I was a student. Now I thoroughly enjoy cultivating this quality in the students I work with, both in music ensembles and in the classroom. In addition I love their creativity, spontaneity, and sense of humor.

Scholarly Interests

  • Van Riper’s scholarly interests lie in turn-of-the-century mechanical music. His dissertation, "The Reproducing Piano: A Portrait of the Artist," explores the history and development of the reproducing piano and its impact on society through capturing historical performance practices of great pianists.


  • Finalist, Conductor, U.S. Air Force Band (one of 10 finalists in the U.S.), 2009
  • Guest performer in concert with United States Army Band "Pershing’s Own," 2009
  • Doctoral Teaching Assistantship, George Mason University, 2009
  • Kentucky Graduate Scholarship, University of Kentucky, 2008

Memberships and Affiliations

  • Phi Mu Alpha
  • College Orchestra Directors Association
  • National Band Association

Dr. Joseph Van Riper CV