Benedict Sheehan b. 1980
Born in Franconia, N.H. in 1980, Benedict Sheehan was raised in the Orthodox Church by American parents who were converts to Orthodoxy. He received his musical training in composition at Westminster Choir College under Joel Phillips, and in conducting, both as a private student of Russian conductor Vladimir Gorbik, and at Bard College under James Bagwell. His compositional output includes chamber works, art songs, works for solo organ, and orchestral arrangements, but his primary focus is choral music, and specifically sacred choral music for the Orthodox liturgy. Sheehan describes his harmonic and melodic vocabulary as deliberately conservative, in keeping with the restrained character of traditional Russian Orthodox music. However, he brings to his compositions not only a thoroughgoing knowledge of Russian Orthodox choral repertoire but a diverse range of other musical influences as well, including American folk song, medieval chant, German and Italian Romanticism, and the works of twentieth-century composers such as Igor Stravinsky and Samuel Barber. These influences, coupled with a lively interest in the cadences of the English language, come together to make Sheehan’s compositional style a unique mixture of old and new, traditional and modern, and his works constitute a unique offering to a growing body of American Orthodox choral repertoire. He currently resides in South Canaan, Pa. with his wife and six daughters, teaching liturgical music and directing the choirs at St. Tikhon’s Seminary and Monastery.