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Sean Shepherd has earned wide acclaim for his “fantastic gift for orchestral color” (New York Times), 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 Macelaru, 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.

2023 saw the world premiere of On a clear day, a large-scale work for conductor Kent Nagano, cellist Jan Vogler, the Hamburg Philharmonic State Orchestra, and a choir of young singers from around the world. The piece, setting poetry by Ulla Hahn, was premiered at Carnegie Hall, followed by performances at the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg and Dresden Music Festival.

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 Sprout, a climate-change themed orchestral work that debuted at the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music; Downtime, premiered in 2021 by the WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln and Cristian Macelaru; 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 2022, Shepherd joined the faculty of the University of Chicago as a visiting professor of composition. He lives in Chicago with his husband and two children, and his music is published by Boosey and Hawkes.

—September 2023
This biography can be reproduced free of charge in concert programs with the following credit:
Reprinted by kind permission of Boosey & Hawkes.

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