Canadian-born Joel Hastings was the winner of the 8th International Web Concert Hall Competition and the International Bach Competition at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. After his performance at the 10th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in Fort Worth, Texas, one reporter designated Hastings the "audience favorite" while another declared, "the kinetic fingers of this Canadian reminded me strongly of his late countryman, Glenn Gould." He was mentioned in Newsweek magazine for having "pulled the audience to their feet after a wild performance of Franz Liszt's Totentanz." Critics described his playing as passionate, mesmerizing, hypnotic, and transcendental.

A Steinway Artist, Hastings performed solo recitals across Canada, the United States, and Europe, while his orchestral engagements included the Toronto Philharmonic; the Detroit, Ann Arbor, Oakville, Okanagan, Windsor, Kamloops, Niagara, Racine, Timmins and Sault Ste. Marie Symphonies; the Kitchener-Waterloo and Michigan Chamber Orchestras; the University of Michigan Symphony Band, the Ann Arbor Concert Band, and the Florida State University Orchestra.

His discography includes live recordings of Franz Liszt's song and operatic transcriptions and Frederic Chopin's 24 Etudes. His recordings were selected for Canadian critic's awards, praised in publications such as American Record Guide and Musicweb International, and featured on CBC national radio as well numerous stations throughout the United States. In August 2014, the Naxos American Classics label released his recording of solo piano music by American composer Carter Pann.

He served as a faculty member of the InterHarmony International Music Festival in Arcidosso, Tuscany, Italy, and Sulzbach-Rosenberg, Bavaria, Germany. He had also been a guest professor at the Sichuan Conservatory in Chengdu, China and had performed and taught in Naleczow, Poland, as part of the Poland International Piano Festival. He was an assistant professor of piano at Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida.