The Kennedy Center

Sean Shepherd


Composer Sean Shepherd's "kaleidoscopic use of orchestral color" (The New York Times) has earned him admiration and recognition across the US and Europe. His recent works are scheduled for performances at the New World, BBC, and National symphonies, at festivals in Aldeburgh, Santa Fe, and La Jolla, and with chamber ensembles such as the Scharoun Ensemble Berlin and Amsterdam's Asko|Schönberg Ensemble. As the Daniel R. Lewis Young Composer Fellow of the Cleveland Orchestra for two consecutive seasons (beginning in 2011 and ending in 2013), he participates in rehearsals, master classes, and educational activities in the Northeast Ohio community, takes part in the orchestra's Miami residency, and will compose a new work that will be premiered during the Cleveland Orchestra's second season of his tenure. Shepherd will also continue his post as the first-ever Composer in Residence of the Reno Philharmonic, his hometown orchestra, which is performing two new works by the composer under Music Director Laura Jackson.

Shepherd's Wanderlust, for which The Times (UK) lauded his "[use of] a profuse orchestral palette," was premiered in 2009 with the Cleveland Orchestra, and will once again bring him to Severance Hall with Franz Welser-Möst in 2012. Wanderlust was also performed by the National Symphony Orchestra in November 2011, with Oliver Knussen at the podium. In early 2012, Shepherd will see performances of two new commissioned works: one for the Ensemble InterContemporain and conductor Susanna Mälkki, which will receive premieres in Paris and Cologne, and another for the Claremont Trio at the opening of the new concert hall at Boston's Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. In 2010, New York Philharmonic Music Director Alan Gilbert led the world premiere of These Particular Circumstances, commissioned by the ensemble for the inaugural new music series CONTACT!, to much critical acclaim.

Shepherd has been recognized with several prestigious awards, including the 2011 United States Artists Fellowship, the 2009 triennial Benjamin H. Danks Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the 2008 Deutsche Bank Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin, and first-prize in the 2005 International Lutoslawski Award. He has attended masterclasses at Tanglewood (2005), Aspen (2006), and the Britten-Pears Young Artist Programme (2007), and held a composer residency in the Fall of 2007 at the Camargo Foundation in Cassis, France. Shepherd has been honored with additional awards from organizations such as the Sue Knussen Composers Fund, ASCAP, and the National Society of Arts and Letters.

Originally from Reno, Nevada, and now residing in New York City, Shepherd's graduate studies include a Master's degree from The Juilliard School, where he studied with composer Robert Beaser, and doctoral work at Cornell University with Roberto Sierra and Steven Stucky. Shepherd also holds degrees in composition and bassoon performance from Indiana University. Also active as a writer on music, his commentary has appeared in Playbill, WQXR's Q2 online blog, and on the American Music Center's NewMusicBox website.

(Current as of September 2011)
Sean Shepherd