about | composer, pianist, educator
Joseph Sheehan is a composer, pianist, and educator immersed in three music traditions: jazz, classical, and traditional West African music. Sheehan’s music and performances embrace a diversity of music traditions and perspectives, woven together to express ideas of tolerance, unity, and wisdom. His work is informed by ten years of university studies in classical composition, culminating in a doctoral degree; three in-depth research trips to Ghana to study its traditional music and dance; and over a thousand performances on piano playing jazz, pop, R&B, and other genres.
At the heart of Sheehan’s work is the ensemble Kinetic, which he founded. Kinetic performs both original and folk melodies interwoven with creativity and energy from jazz. In 2018, they released Songs of Lake Volta, which also featured members of the Kassia Ensemble, on the Ansonica Records label, which garnered critical acclaim, media, and radioplay. At the heart of the album are nine traditional Ghanaian songs, blended with original music composed by Sheehan. A review from Textura.org said “Songs of Lake Volta draws magnificent connecting threads from classical music and contemporary jazz to the music of West Africa.” Kinetic has performed in Toronto, New York City, Philadelphia, for Chamber Music Pittsburgh, and throughout the Pittsburgh region. Kinetic is currently working on a new album to be released and performed in 2021.
On piano, Sheehan has performed with jazz masters, crossover string players, rappers, classical ensembles, Ghanaian & Chinese traditional musicians, and many others, at all kinds of stages and venues. On numerous occasions, he has produced or collaborated on interdisciplinary, genre-defying concerts that thoughtfully blend world music, hip-hop, jazz, R&B, and classical music with dance, poetry, and visual art. His compositions and performances have sounded at music festivals & conferences, concert halls, universities, jazz venues, museums, and theaters throughout the Pittsburgh region, throughout the U.S. Northeast, and internationally in Italy.
Dr. Sheehan is an Associate Professor of Musicianship at Duquesne University, and an artist faculty at the Clazz International Music Festival in Arcidosso, Italy. At Duquesne, he teaches classes on Musicianship, Songwriting, African Music, and Composition.