Kaleel Skeirik


Kaleel Skeirik, Professor of Music at Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio, has a B.M. and a M.M. in piano performance and a Ph.D. in music theory from the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati. His most recent newly composed work is “The Armed Man 2016″ performed on March 1, 2016 at Xavier University.  The work is for symphonic winds, choir, gospel choir, vocal quartet and jazz trio.  This work was sponsored by multiple organizations at Xavier University and was part of the Ethics Religion and Society series that focused on excessive force in policing as it relates to Blacks in Cincinnati and in the United States.  The work includes a 64 name roll call of the deceased since 2000.  A video of the multi-media performance will soon be available on the internet.  He was recently awarded the Xavier University Faculty Jesuit Fellowship for 2017 to compose a new ballet focused on social justice and climate justice.

Xavier University awarded Kaleel Skeirik the 2016-2017 Jesuit community faculty Fellowship to compose a ballet on Integral Ecology and Sustainability.  The work use new tuning temperaments, has seven movements that challenge us to rethink the economy, consumption, the environment and our spiritual relationship with each of these.

For many years, he toured as a pianist throughout the eastern and mid-western United States, giving over a hundred concerts, often performing his own solo piano works on those concerts. In 2001, he composed two works, Caribbean Voyage: Suite for Orchestra and Pans and a second work Calaballa (for orchestra and steel drums with audience participation) for the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and the Clark Montessori Steel Drum Band for the Orchestra’s 2002 Lollipop’s Concert and Educational Concerts in Cincinnati’s Music Hall. He was commissioned in the fall of 2001 by the Blue Ash Youth Symphony Orchestra to compose a work for their tenth anniversary season, “The Blue Ash Youth Overture, Forever Freedom.” This work is a celebration of youth and is a sonic memorial to of those lost on September 11, 2001.

The “Three Spiritual Reflections” for vocal quartet, piano, children, dancer, and an actor with audience participation is a semi-staged multi-media work concerned with issues of social justice and spirituality. This work was presented at Bellarmine Chapel on the Xavier University Campus in 2003 as a benefit concert for the Amos Project of Cincinnati. The specially commissioned music, texts, and paintings interrelate lessons from the prophets from the Old Testament, the Last Supper and the newspaper reports of the civil unrest in the city of Cincinnati in the Spring of 2001.

In 2003 Skeirik was commissioned by the Lima Symphony Orchestra to co-compose with Bruce Weil a jazz-Latin-classic-contemporary work, Load’n the Truck for orchestra, piano, alto saxophone improvisation and steel drums for their 2004 Pops Concert. The Armed Man is a multi-media work (paintings and poetry and music) about the shooting death of a Cincinnati resident by a Cincinnati Police Officer. The work is for symphonic winds and was commissioned by the School for the Creative and Performing Arts in Cincinnati, Ohio in 2004. In November of 2005 his Concerto for Orchestra and Alto Flute was performed in Cincinnati. Skeirik’s second commissioned work of 2006 for the School for the Creative and Performing Arts Symphonic Wind Ensemble, Visions, is a musical statement about peace.

He was invited to perform concerts as a composer/pianist at the Hayner Cultural Center in Troy, Ohio for both the 2008 and 2009 poetry and music series where he presented his own works for piano solo and chamber music (Sunday Evening Rag, Laconic Variations, The Hollow Men, Invisible Pastel and Rhapsody to the Rose). In the spring of 2008, he performed a lecture recital on his work The Hollow Men at Walnut Hills High School in Cincinnati and later in that season presented a full concert of his own works at Xavier University. In 2010, the Xavier University concert Choir in Cincinnati, Ohio commissioned and premiered his work La Quercia for two synthesizers, percussion and chorus. The lyrics for the work, a poem by Skeirik, focus on the passing of the baton of life from one generation to the next. The work employs the traditional equal tempered scale in combination with Skeirik’s newly derived microtonal/sixteen-note scale based upon pure interval seventh chords. In 2012, Skeirik set William Carlos William’s poem “Rain” for SSAA chorus with body percussion, two marimbas and piano.

He has received several John Grissmer Performing Arts Grants, Xavier University Faculty Research Grants, a Xavier University Wheeler Grant (new course development, Music, War and Peace/Music, Love and Death that are part of the Ethics/Religion and Society core philosophy requirements for undergraduates) and a U.S. government/Sister Cities grant. In 1997, he was a guest professor at the University of Munich. From 2004-7 Skeirik chaired the Xavier University Department of Music and led the university to its first accreditation by the National Association of Schools of Music. In 2007 he served as the lead architect for a $500,000 grant awarded to the Xavier’s Music Department for special outreach and a music education faculty position in the department. In 2012 Xavier University awarded Skeirik a $5,000 grant to evaluate the programming trends of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra from 1898 to present especially as they relate to programming modern music. The research resulted in an article entitled “Art Music and the Economy: The Modernity Index and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, 1895 to 2013” published by the International Journal of Economics and Business Research in 2015. He has also consulted on this topic with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and was invited to give a TEDx talk on the modern in music in 2013, Music as a Public Good: Kaleel Skeirik at TedxXavierUniversity. Most recently Skeirik presented a paper and a new work of music at the 2014 Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education Conference and Exposition in Portland, Oregon. The new work will explore how humans are radically changing their world. The work is microtonal, and uses granular synthesis to create a musical landscape for its multi-media component. The work was also presented at the  Seizing an Alternative:  Toward an Ecological Civilization  at Pomona College in the spring of 2015. Skeirik led a session at the conference on Modern Music, Complexity and Ecology in the context of an ecological civilization.

At Xavier, Skeirik oversees the Music Theory Lab and teaches music theory, composition, American Popular Music and a course that explore the relationships between music, war and peace and a course on music, love and death. He started teaching at Edgecliff College in 1981, which was later purchased by Xavier University.

Skeirik refers to the music that he composes as THINK MUSIC.  He uses this term to distinguish his music from the many styles of popular music that fill our world today. So often when he encounters people and they ask him what he does and he says he is a composer, the questioner usually thinks he composes some type of popular music for enjoyment.  Think music is intended to be a sensual, moving, intellectual and spiritual artistic experience.  It is intended to be received by the entire person, more than the basic sensorial enjoyment music gives us all so freely.  Some have referred to his music as cognitive music or music that makes you think.  He is comfortable with that thought.


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