When Joe was young, he couldn’t resist tapping the keys of the Kawai piano that sat near the kitchen of his home, so his parents enrolled him in piano lessons at the age of six. Joe would continue taking lessons for the next twelve years, training in the basics of classical piano while also learning the art of improvisation. He also studied a semester of piano lessons at the University of Minnesota to further develop his technique.
At the age of 14 and in eighth grade, Joe became a regular pianist and cantor in the music ministry at his home parish, St. Joseph’s Catholic Church. It was at St. Joe’s that he learned the importance of sharing his musical gifts with others. In 1998, when Joe was a junior in high school, he became intrigued at the possibility of composing his own music and recording it. Pretty much green to the music industry, he spent time in the library and on the Internet researching the many processes and costs involved in making and selling his own recording.
Joe took a calculated risk that he could break even on his first CD, and dipped into his college savings to fund the music project and open his own part-time business. He released his first original piano CD, Milestones, two weeks before his high school graduation in 1999. For graduation, Joe composed and arranged “Test Your Wings,” one of the songs from his album, which his high school choir performed at the commencement ceremony. He taught himself how to notate his own music, developing piano books based on his albums and offering free sheet music downloads to encourage and inspire others to share their musical gifts.
With the successful sales of his first album, Joe continued composing songs between his college homework and exams, and he recorded his follow-up CD, In Focus, in 2003 after earning his marketing degree from the University of Minnesota. His piano playing style is “piano music that paints a picture (SM)” and his songs invite listeners to use their imagination and interpret the music.
In 2005, Joe released his third CD, Midnight Clear, a collection of Christmas favorites. The new CD marks a more sophisticated sound for his music with the addition of light instrumental accompaniment and some vocals. Still active in music ministry, Joe continues to share his talent at St. Joe’s when he visits his South Dakota hometown. Most recently, Joe was a weekly cantor at the University of Notre Dame. He keeps his piano playing skills sharp through daily practice and by performing at concerts, dinner parties, retail gift stores, weddings and other events. Joe recently graduated with his MBA from the University of Notre Dame and resides in Chicago.
Listening to the Midnight Clear CD, you will be able to “paint a picture” of a warm, crackling fire melting away the winter weather and a blanket of crisp, white snow outside. The CD has quiet, tender moments and energetic, upbeat numbers. I had a really great time recording this project. Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year, and the music always puts me in a good mood. I think you’ll like it, too.
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