Sean Shepherd, composer

Headshot_Sean Shepherd

"An exciting composer of the new American generation" (New York Times), and a “vital taste of the future” (Boston Globe), Sean Shepherd has earned wide acclaim and commissions from major ensembles and performers across the US and Europe. His music has been commissioned and performed by the BBC, Chicago, Minnesota, Montréal, National, New World symphony orchestras, radio orchestras in Austria, France, and Germany, and by leading European ensembles including Ensemble intercontemporain, the Scharoun Ensemble Berlin, the Asko|Schönberg Ensemble and the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group. Conductors who champion Shepherd’s work include Christoph Eschenbach, Alan Gilbert,Cristian Măcelaru, Susanna Mälkki, Donald Runnicles, and Franz Welser-Möst. His works have been performed at festivals in Aldeburgh, Heidelberg, La Jolla, Lucerne, Santa Fe, Aspen, the Grand Tetons, and Tanglewood.

This season sees several major premieres including On A Clear Day, a large-scale work for cellist Jan Vogler, the Audi Jugendchor, and the Hamburgische Staatsorchester with conductor Kent Nagano, on texts by poet Ulla Hahn. The piece will be presented at festivals in Hamburg and Dresden, with more performances this season to be announced. Shepherd’s String Quartet No.3 premieres in Utah and Toronto this fall with the Pacifica Quartet. In May 2023, the Jacksonville Symphony and conductor Courtney Lewis give the world premiere of a new orchestral work.

Shepherd’s orchestral work Express Abstractionism, co-commissioned and performed by the Boston Symphony and Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestras, led by Andris Nelsons, can be heard on a 2019 Naxos release of Boston Symphony commissions. Other recent highlights include Tiny Bright Big True Real for oboe, bassoon, and piano (commissioned for the winners of the International Double Reed Society’s Gillet and Hooks competitions in honor of IDRS 50th anniversary); Old Instruments for flutist Joshua Smith and percussionist Jacob Nissly at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival; saxophone quintet Sonata à 5 for the Music Academy of the West; Familiar for cellist Anssi Kartunnen and Echo for oboist Nicholas Daniel, each at the Aldeburgh Festival; wideOPENwide for violinist Jennifer Koh; and Concerto for Ensemble, which premiered at the Philharmonie de Paris, with Matthias Pintscher and the Ensemble intercontemporain.

After serving as the Daniel R. Lewis Composer Fellow at the Cleveland Orchestra and composer-in-residence of Reno Philharmonic, his hometown orchestra, Shepherd was named the New York Philharmonic’s inaugural Kravis Emerging Composer in 2012. After composing Magiya for the National Youth Orchestra of United States of America’s inaugural season and tour, he developed the NYO-USA’s Composer Apprentice program with Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute, which he continues to direct. In fall 2022, Shepherd joins the faculty of the University of Chicago as Visiting Assistant Professor of composition. He lives in Chicago with his husband and two children, and his music is published by Boosey and Hawkes.