“An exciting composer of the new American generation” (The New York Times), Sean Shepherd has earned wide acclaim and commissions from major ensembles and performers across the U.S. and Europe. He has served as the New York Philharmonic’s inaugural Kravis Emerging Composer, as the Daniel R. Lewis Composer Fellow at the Cleveland Orchestra, and as composer-in-residence of the Reno Philharmonic.
Shepherd’s music has been commissioned and performed by the New York Philharmonic, Cleveland Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Maison symphonique de Montréal, National Symphony Orchestra, and New World Symphony Orchestra, and with leading European ensembles including Ensemble Intercontemporain, the Scharoun Ensemble Berlin, the Asko|Schönberg Ensemble and the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group. Shepherd’s works have also been performed at festivals including Aldeburgh, Heidelberg, La Jolla, Lucerne, Santa Fe, Aspen, Tanglewood, as well as Cabrillo.
During the 2017–2018 season, Shepherd received two significant world premieres. Aquaria for cello and piano, commissioned by Cal Performances in Berkeley, California, for Finnish cellist Anssi Karttunen and British pianist Nicolas Hodges. Additionally, the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, helmed by Andris Nelsens, joined forces in a unique musical exchange and selected Shepherd to write their first joint commission. The new orchestral work, Express Abstractionism, premiered in February 2018 with the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
Other recent premieres include Echo for oboist Nicholas Daniel at the Aldeburgh Festival, wideOPENwide for violinist Jennifer Koh, Concerto for Ensemble for Ensemble Intercontemporain, String Quartet No. 2 for Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival and La Jolla Music Society SummerFest, and Songs for the New York Philharmonic. Shepherd’s Magiya, written for Carnegie Hall’s inaugural National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America, toured the U.S. and Europe in 2013 with Maestro Gergiev.
Shepherd’s education includes degrees in composition and bassoon performance from Indiana University, a master’s degree from The Juilliard School, and doctoral work at Cornell University with Roberto Sierra and Steven Stucky.
Cabrillo Festival partnered with Grand Teton Music Festival to co-commissioned Shepherd’s newest work, Melt. Donald Runnicles conducts the world premiere in Jackson Hole in July 2018; and Cabrillo presents the West Coast premiere on Saturday, August 11. This is Shepherd’s second residency at Cabrillo.
Photo by Jamie Kingham