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Shawn E. Okpebholo


Shawn E. Okpebholo (b. 1981) is Professor of Music Composition at Wheaton College-Conservatory of Music and a widely sought-after and award-winning composer, most recently winning the American Prize in Composition (2020). His music has been characterized as having “enormous grace… fantasy, and color” as he comfortably composes in various styles and genres. Much of his musical education as a child was from The Salvation Army Church where he received free music lessons. His experience with the Salvation Army shaped his passion for paying kindness forward through music education in underserved communities. Okpebholo’s music has been performed on five continents, in over 40 states, and in nearly every major U.S. city. He regularly receives commissions from celebrated soloists, chamber groups, and large ensembles — artists who have performed his works in some of the nation’s most prestigious performance spaces, including Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center. He earned his masters and doctoral degrees in composition from the University of Cincinnati, College-Conservatory of Music. In 2021, he begins a two-year residency as Chicago Opera Theater’s newest Vanguard Emerging Opera Composer.