about me  | 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 afro-jazz ensemble Kinetic, which he founded. In 2018, they released Songs of Lake Volta on the Ansonica Records label, which garnered critical acclaim, media, and radioplay. The album presents nine traditional Ghanaian songs, blended with original music influenced by jazz and classical idioms. 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 live in Toronto, New York City, Philadelphia, for Chamber Music Pittsburgh, and at many other regional venues. The group is excited to tour China in 2020, giving eight performances in the country.


Dr. Sheehan is an Associate Professor of Musicianship at Duquesne University, an artist faculty at the Clazz International Music Festival in Arcidosso, Italy, and a frequent performer at music concerts for the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. His music and performances have sounded at music festivals (Clazz International Music Festival, Aspen Music Festival, Monadnock Emerging Artists Series, Three Rivers Arts Festival); concert halls (Miller Theater [NYC], Perelman Theater [Philadelphia]); music conferences (ITG, CMS); universities (Boston, Colorado State, Colorado Mesa, Maryland, West Virginia, Duquesne); regional jazz venues (Pittsburgh Winery, Thunderbird Café, James Street Gastropub); museums and libraries (Andy Warhol Museum, Carnegie Library); and churches & theaters (Heinz Chapel, City Theatre in Pittsburgh).


He has performed and collaborated with musicians performing jazz, classical, hip-hop, pop, and world music styles, including vocalist Anqwenique (Pittsburgh); percussionist Lisa Pegher (NYC); saxophonists Ron Blake & Troy Roberts (NYC); violinists Helmut Lipsky (Montreal), Drew Jurecka (Toronto) & Jeremy Cohen (SF); pipa player Yang Jin (Pittsburgh); cellist Cris Campbell (Travers City, MI); rapper Shad Ali (Pittsburgh); trumpeter Timothy Altman (Pembroke, NC); the Kassia Ensemble (Pittsburgh); Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble (Pittsburgh); and many others.

Projects & Collaborations:

Kinetic | www.soundcloud.com/kineticpittsburgh | Composer, Pianist, Founder


Kinetic performs songs immersed in the tropical sounds and rhythms of West Africa, blended with contemporary jazz and R&B. A new album Songs of Lake Volta will be released by Ansonica Records on August 8, 2018. The debut album, 'World of Wonder', was released on November 20, 2014. Get it on iTunes here.  For more info, check out the Kinetic page on this website.

Trio+ | www.facebook.com/trioplusmusic | Pianist, Arranger


Trio+ blazes a unstoppable mix of hip-hop, pop, R&B, and theme music classics, arranged in fresh and creative ways. Featuring Joe Sheehan (keys/vocoder), Jason Rafalak (bass/synth bass), and Ryan Socrates (acoustic/electronic drums), Trio+ has worked with outstanding vocalists and rappers. The group has performed at the Pittsburgh Winery, James St., Ava Lounge, Sonoma Grill, Seviche, and the Mansions on Fifth Avenue.

The Groove Aesthetic | Music Director, Pianist, Arranger


The Groove Aesthetic is an artist collective involving musicians, dancers, rappers, and visual artists. It creates shows that explore synergies between different musical genres (such as "Bach Boombox", a show interweaving classical and hip-hop music) brought together by artists of many disciplines. The collective was founded in 2012 by vocalist Anqwenique.

Anqwenique, vocalist | http://anqwenique.com/


Shad Ali, rapper | https://soundcloud.com/shad_ali


Kassia Ensemble, percussionist | http://www.kassiaensemble.com/


An all-female chamber ensemble with flexible instrumentation and innovative programming.

Lisa Pegher, percussionist | www.lisapegher.com


Duquesne University's Mary Pappert School of Music | www.duq.edu/music

Musicianship Department | Assistant Professor of Music


Clazz International Music Festival | www.clazzmusicfestival.com

Faculty Member

Other collaborations:

  • Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra as a teaching artist for the PSO's Audience of the Future program. High school students from the region put together an imaginative program for the PSO.

  • College Music Society (CMS) Northeast Regional Conference | performance of Little Dance in 2018, Newark, DE; and Farewell Songs in 2014, Potsdam, NY.

  • African Heritage Dance Group, Accra, Ghana | guest drummer and dancer in 2013, 2009.

  • Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble (PNME) | performance of Farewell Songs in 2012, Pittsburgh, PA.

  • Aspen Contemporary Ensemble | performance of Farewell Songs in 2008, Aspen, CO.

  • Indiana University New Music Ensemble | commissioned & performed Suspended in Perpetual Ascent in 2006 in an East Coast Tour (Washington D.C., Philadelphia, New York City).

  • Kuttner Quartet | performance of String Quartet in 2005, Bloomington, IN.

  • American Composers Orchestra | reading of Sail Away to Soft, Sweet Bells in 2005 as part of the Underwood New Music Series, New York City, NY.

  • Broadcast Music Incorporated (BMI) | Winner of Student Composer Awards in 2005, 2003; both pieces recieving the William Schumann Prize for the Most Outstanding Score.


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