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.
Sheehan performs frequently as a jazz pianist for the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, and at jazz venues, with many leading musicians in the Pittsburgh region. His classical compositions have been frequently performed by faculty at the Clazz International Music Festival in Arcidosso, Italy; by percussionist Lisa Pegher throughout the East Coast; and have been heard at music festivals (Monadnock Emerging Artists Series, Three Rivers Arts Festival, Aspen Music Festival); concert halls (Miller Theater NYC, Perelman Theater Philadelphia); music conferences (ITG, CMS); universities (Colorado State, Colorado Mesa, Boston, West Virginia, Duquesne); and museums and libraries (Andy Warhol Museum; Carnegie Library). Finally, Sheehan is active in producing and performing interdisciplinary, genre-defying concerts for Chamber Music Pittsburgh, Dance Alloy Studios, and at the Clazz International Music Festival. Many of these concerts thoughtfully blend world music, hip-hop, jazz, R&B, and classical music with dance, poetry, and visual art.
Perhaps the purest expression of Sheehan's artistic aims is through the afro-jazz ensemble Kinetic, which he founded to create music for. In 2018, Kinetic released Songs of Lake Volta on the Ansonica Records label, which garnered critical acclaim, media, and radio play. The album presents nine traditional Ghanaian songs, blended with original music influenced by jazz and classical idioms. 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, and throughout Pittsburgh, with an upcoming tour to China to perform eight concerts throughout the country.
At Duquesne University, Sheehan has taught classes in musicianship, songwriting, African music, music composition, rhythm, and minimalism, and at Maymester study abroad programs in Rome and Ghana.
Areas of expertise:
- Music Composition
- Jazz Piano
- Collaborative Music Performance