Shawn E Okpebholo is a widely sought-after and award-winning composer, whose music can be characterized as diverse, dynamic, and genuine – composing in styles ranging from contemporary classical to liturgical. His music has been performed all over the world, in five continents (Africa, Asia, Europe, North and South Americas), in over thirty states in the U.S., and in nearly every major U.S. city. Distinguished venues and festivals include: The Kennedy Center and the National Cathedral (Washington, D.C.); Monte Music Festival (Goa, India); CBDNA National Conference (Seattle, WA); MusicX Contemporary Music Festival (Cincinnati, OH); PRIZM Ensemble Concert Series (Memphis, TN); and the state music festivals of Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio and Texas. Dr. Okpebholo has received numerous commissions from noted soloists, universities and organizations, including the International Tuba and Euphonium Association, the United States Air Force, the MAVerick Ensemble, the Ohio Music Education Association, the Lexington Brass Band, the Jackson Symphony Orchestra, among others. Some noted performing artists and ensembles include: The Cadillac Moon Ensemble, Palomar Ensemble, United States Army Field Band, College-Conservatory of Music Wind Symphony, CCM Chamber Players, Steven Mead, Will Liverman, Paul Tuntland Sánchez, J’nai Bridges, Caen Thomason-Redus and Dorthy White Okpebholo. His compositions can be heard on a variety of commercially released CDs. His first album solely devoted to his music, Steal Away, is a collection Negro spirituals that he re-imagined. 

As an academic, Dr. Okpebholo has guest lectured and given masterclasses at many colleges and universities across the 

country as well as two universities in Nigeria. His work has been supported by many grants, including a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, Wheaton College Aldeen Research Grant, and Union University Pew Research Grant. His artistry has been recognized by various awards including first prizes in the Accent06 International Composition Competition, KMEA All-Collegiate Composition Contest, and Peniston Honors in Composition and has been an annual recipient of the ASCAPlus awards since 2004. He was also one of eighteen featured composers in Volume IV of the book series, "Composers on Composing for Band," edited by Mark Camphouse.

He earned his masters and doctoral degrees in composition from the University of Cincinnati, College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) where he also studied music theory. He completed a bachelor’s degree in composition and music history from Asbury College and had additional studies in film scoring at New York University. His primary teachers were James Curnow, Joel Hoffman, Ronald Holz, and Michael Fiday. Most of his music education growing up was through The Salvation Army church, where he regularly received free music lessons. That act of charity shaped his passion for giving back, musically, to underserved communities – sharing classical music to those who typically are not exposed to such styles. Currently, he is Associate Professor of Music Composition and Theory at Wheaton College Conservatory of Music (IL), having previously taught at Union University (TN), Northern Kentucky University, and CCM. He lives in Wheaton, IL with his wife, violist Dorthy, and his daughters, Eva and Corinne.


Photographer: Greg Halvorsen Schreck