Dr. Joseph SheehanAssistant Professor of Composition
Mary Pappert School of Music
School of Music, Room 207
Education:D.M., Indiana University
M.M., Indiana University
B.A., Duquesne University
Joseph Sheehan is a composer, pianist, and educator rooted in classical, jazz, and world musics. Through his compositions, performances, and teaching, Sheehan works to connect with people in deep and fulfilling ways, and to build stronger, more diverse musical communities.
At the heart of Sheehan's compositions is a celebration of song and dance, whether the music is written for traditional classical ensembles, new music groups, or jazz musicians. The focus on song and dance was largely inspired by a prolonged trip to Ghana, West Africa, in 2008 to study and perform traditional Ghanaian music and dance. This amazing experience, as well asSheehan's passion for jazz, informs recent pieces such as Marimba Loops, for marimba and tape, featuring a solo percussionist accompanied by soulful harmonies and synth loops; and Dances of Travels, for violin and piano, a collection of three distinctive dances. The six songs Sheehan has written for the ensemble Kinetic, a group he created comprised of outstanding musicians with diverse musical backgrounds, blend energetic rhythms and harmonies from afro-pop and jazz into a unique sound.
Other ensembles that have performed Sheehan's music include the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, the Aspen Contemporary Ensemble, the Alea III Ensemble, the Kuttner Quartet, and the Westmoreland Choral Society. In 2007 the Indiana University New Music Ensemble performed Suspended in Perpetual Ascent in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and New York City as part of an East Coast tour; and the American Composers Orchestra read Sail Away to Soft, Sweet Bells at the 2005 Underwood New Music Readings. Sheehan has won top composition prizes from BMI, NFMC, and Indiana University, and was a fellow at the 2008 Aspen Summer Music Festival.
As a pianist, Sheehan performs jazz, R&B, rock, hip-hop, folk, classical, and world musics at venues all over the Pittsburgh area. He is a 2011 Jazzspace resident artist, and has been heard at Pittsburgh JazzLive festivals and at the Three Rivers Arts Festival. He performs and sings regularly with Trio+, a group playing creative arrangements of pop, rock, hip-hop, film music, and jazz; and in the ensemble Kinetic. He has drummed and danced with traditional West African ensembles in Ghana, Bloomington, IN, and Pittsburgh.
Dr. Sheehan holds a D.M. and M.M. from Indiana University, Bloomington, IN, and a B.A. from Duquesne University. He currently serves as an assistant professor at Duquesne University's innovative Musicianship Department in Pittsburgh, PA.