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about  | pianist, composer, educator

Joseph Sheehan is a composer, pianist, and educator immersed in three music environments: jazz, classical, and global folk traditions. His music and performances embrace a diversity of music traditions and perspectives, woven together to express ideas of tolerance, unity, and wisdom. 


Open to many paths of musical expression, Sheehan has performed with jazz masters in Pittsburgh and NYC; folk musicians from Ghana, Uganda, Cuba, and China; classical crossover artists in Italy; rappers and DJs; and classical chamber ensembles. His piano playing is rooted in Pittsburgh’s historic jazz scene, and his compositions and performances have been heard at jazz clubs, concert halls, music festivals and conferences, universities, and museums throughout the U.S., and in Canada, Italy, Ghana and Uganda.


At the heart of his work is the ensemble Kinetic, a music collective whose performances blend global folk traditions with modern jazz. The group recorded two albums (Dances of Lake Volta [2021] and Songs of Lake Volta [2018, Ansonica]) interweaving Ghanaian folk song with original music composed by Sheehan. The recordings draw “magnificent connecting threads from classical music and contemporary jazz to the music of West Africa… buoyed by soaring melodies and infectious rhythms” ( and “make a fascinating, in-depth, approach to a creative universe… a real treasure” (Sonagrama Magazine, translation by Google). Informing this work were three trips to Ghana to study traditional music with local masters between 2008-2014.


Some musical highlights:

  • Performing with Pittsburgh jazz legends Roger Humphries, Dwayne Dolphin, Paul Thompson, James Johnson III, Thomas Wendt, and many others;

  • Performing at the Akron Rubber City Jazz Festival (2023), the Pittsburgh International JazzLive Festival (2011), and the Three Rivers Arts Festival (2016, 2014);

  • Performing with national touring jazz musicians Chantae Cann, Troy Roberts, and Ron Blake (2017-2019);

  • Performing and sharing original compositions at the Clazz International Music Festival in Italy (2022, 2016-2019) with artist faculty from Italy, Malaysia, Canada, and the U.S.;

  • Performing with Nile Beat and Haruna Walusimbi at the Arab-African Alliance Festival (2022) in Jinja, Uganda; and the Vintage Band in Accra, Ghana (2023);

  • Curating and performing concerts for Chamber Music Pittsburgh and City of Asylum blending global folk musicians from Zambia, Cuba, China, and Mexico with jazz musicians from the U.S.;

  • Teaching study abroad classes for Duquesne University in Italy (2022, 2018) and Ghana (2016-17);

  • Attaining composition awards from BMI, NFMC, the American Composers Orchestra, the Aspen Summer Music Festival, and ShoutHouse NYC.


Dr. Sheehan is an associate professor at Duquesne University, where he teaches classes in Musicianship, Songwriting, African Music, and collaborative music making. He has been an artist faculty at the Clazz International Music Festival in Arcidosso, Italy, and teaches private lessons in piano and composition.

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