Sean William Calhoun | Composer and pianist

Photo credit: Kelsey Ross
Sean William Calhoun composes music of vibrant harmonies, written with performers in mind. His recent collaborations have included Fluctuations (for violin, bass clarinet, and marimba), composed for the trio F-PLUS, RE:Sound (for flute and clarinet), composed for the duo RE: New Music, Vim (for flute and violin), written for The Witches, Divisions and Diversions, written for saxophonist Zach Stern, Windrunner, Sonata for Flute and Piano, and Abyss Lustre (for flute and harp), written for flutist Emma Resmini, Filament Canopy (for harp and percussion), for the Sticks & Strings duo, and Branching, for the Omnibus Ensemble. The Peabody Wind Ensemble, conducted by Harlan Parker, premiered his piece Edgedancer in October of 2015, and the Indiana University of Pennsylvania Concert Band, conducted by Jack Stamp, premiered the wind ensemble version of his Coruscation in April of 2015. The Milieu Quartet selected his percussion quartet "In Chasms Deep" as the winner of their call for scores, and premiered it on their concert in December of 2015. Read full bio

Please look through the list of works – it probably contains a piece or few for your instrument.

Bio:

Sean William Calhoun composes music of vibrant harmonic colors, written with performers in mind. His music has been performed in various states, once in England, once in Germany, and once in Uzbekistan. His recent collaborations have included Fluctuations (for violin, bass clarinet, and marimba), composed for the trio F-PLUS, RE:Sound (for flute and clarinet), composed for the duo RE: New Music, Vim (for flute and violin), written for The Witches, Divisions and Diversions, written for saxophonist Zach Stern, Windrunner, Sonata for Flute and Piano, and Abyss Lustre (for flute and harp), written for flutist Emma Resmini, Filament Canopy (for harp and percussion), for the Sticks & Strings duo, and Branching, for the Omnibus Ensemble. His piece Edgedancer was premiered by the Peabody Wind Ensemble, conducted by Harlan Parker.

His percussion quartet In Chasms Deep was the winner of the Milieu Quartet's 2015 call for scores. He participated in the exchange program between the Blair School of Music and the Royal Academy of Music in London, in which he worked with violinist Peter Sheppard Skærved and composer David Gorton. The Blair School of Music commissioned Sean to compose a piece for their 50th anniversary gala concert in 2014, for which he wrote Divertimento. His piano trio Core was the winner of the 2013 Beethoven Club Composition Contest, and was performed at the Belvedere Chamber Music Festival. In 2013, he also attended the Wintergreen Summer Music Festival, where he studied with Robert Carl, Samuel Zyman, and Larry Alan Smith. In both 2011 and 2012, Sean was selected for the Tennessee Valley Music Festival Young Composers’ Forum, where his orchestral works Elegy and Coruscation were premiered, and where he studied with composer Robert J. Bradshaw.

Also a pianist, Sean frequently plays the music of his peers (and his own pieces), as well as other contemporary works.

Sean is currently pursuing a DMA in composition from the Eastman School of Music, where he is studying with David Liptak. He received his M.M. in Composition from Peabody Conservatory, where he studied with Michael Hersch, Amy Beth Kirsten, and Jason Eckardt, and his B.M. in Theory/Composition from the Blair School of Music at Vanderbilt University, where he studied with Michael Slayton, Michael Rose, and Stan Link.

Sean’s music may be found on Youtube and Soundcloud (or by checking the “Recordings” bit of this site), and his ramblings may be found on Facebook or, very rarely, Twitter. A high-quality headshot may be found and downloaded here. Credit for that photo as well as the one on this page go to Kelsey Ross.

 

Click on a work to read more about it

Implementation currently in progress; older works will be unresponsive

RE:Sound, for flute and clarinet (2017) – 13'

I. RE:Bound
II. RE:Verse
III. RE:Volt
IV. RE:Form
V. RE:New
RE:Sound was composed for the duo RE: New Music, comprised of Robin Meiksins (flute), and Emily Mehigh (clarinet). In the first movement, RE:Bound, notes and lines ricochet off of each other, forming into melodies passed between the instruments. RE:Verse is a slow, lyrical palindromic movement. RE:Volt begins violently, with jagged patterns in unisons between the instruments, which begin to dissolve into disoriented figures. The conflict between the disjunct rigidity of the beginning with the chaos of the interruptions builds as the two combine until the music spirals out of control. In RE:Form, the instruments pick through and reassemble broken pieces left after the previous movement’s explosion. RE:New begins much the way RE:Bound did, but adds recollections from the subsequent movements, bringing the piece to a vigorous close.

Abyss Lustre, for flute and harp (2017) – 13'

I. Evocation
II. Phantasm
III. Submersion
Abyss Lustre, composed for Emma Resmini and Héloïse Carlean-Jones, begins with Evocation, with winding lines emerging from caliginous murmurings, and with a lyrical melody forming and fraying amidst a stark landscape. Phantasm swirls, flickers, and pulses, developing a four-note motive along with the winding figures from the first movement, and a memory of its melody. The motion grows increasingly turbulent until it reaches the thunderous climax that begins Submersion. From this zenith, the lyrical melody descends, sinking ever deeper until it returns to the void whence it emerged.

Fluctuations, for violin, bass clarinet, and marimba (2017) – 25'

I. Forest
II. Frost
III. Flow
IV. Fallen
V. Fuoco
Fluctuations, written for the trio F-PLUS, begins with Forest, a movement of running lines growing from the marimba’s initial figurations, at times fracturing between instruments or coalescing into longer melodies. It spins away upward, landing in the stark second movement Frost, featuring a marimba solo accompanied by sustained violin and bass clarinet notes in the outer registers. Flow is rapid quasi-dance in alternating meters flying faster and faster until it collapses into the Follen, the longest movement. The violin and bass clarinet play a slow duet supported by rolled marimba chords, building to a powerful climax, then fading back, ending with an echo of Frost. A bass clarinet solo heralds the beginning of Fuoco, an energetic, rhythmic movement that draws together themes and motives from the preceding movements.

Divisions and Diversions: four pieces and an encore for solo alto saxophone (2017) – 13'

I. Prelude
II. Skirr
III. Apart
IV. Updog
Encore: Alternative Sax
Divisions and Diversions is a set of four miniatures for solo alto sax composed for Zach Stern. The Prelude opens the set with a tranquil melody. Skirr follows with rapid figures in the middle register interrupted by staccato accents above and below. Apart is hushed, with lyrical but disjunct figures, occasionally shifting into otherworldly multiphonics. The last movement, Updog, attempts to answer what it is.

Trellis, for chamber orchestra (2017) – 7'

Trellis is about soli — not unaccompanied soli, but points at which one instrument acts as the soloist of the ensemble. These vary from the conventionally virtuosic (such as the violin’s solo) to the more lyrical (such as the clarinet’s solo), and include two duos along the way (flute with bassoon, and both percussion together). Interspersed among these soli are swirling chords in the full ensemble.

Snowdrift, for harp and piano (2017) – 5'

Snowdrift takes the commonalities of the harp and piano to weave them around each other in similar patterns, while also bringing out their differences — the harp’s greater ease with harmonics and the piano’s greater ease with repeating notes, the harp’s softer attack and the piano’s wider range. It returns repeatedly to the floating harmony from which it begins, and to a reflective melody often split between the harp and piano.

Metamorphose, for solo flute (2017) – 4'

Metamorphose was composed for the flutist Robin Meiksins. A print of Escher’s Metamorphosis II appears frequently in the background of Robin’s videos, so I took it as the model for this piece. A (partially arbitrary) system was used to assign notes and articulations to letters to begin the piece as Escher’s woodcut begins, with the word METAMORPHOSE. From there it follows Escher’s development into crossed words, checkers, scurrying creatures (salamanders?), hexagons, a honeycomb with larvae that emerge as bees, which in turn continue morphing into interlocking patterns of, fish, birds, cubes, which spread into a coastal city, a chessboard, then return via checkers to the original METAMORPHOSE. This model gives the piece a continuous form, in which sections blend into others, with segments of the original METAMORPHOSE theme recurring in various guises, particularly a staccato leaping figure associated with geometric figures (squares, hexagons, cubes, etc.).

Sonatina for Clarinet and Piano (2017) – 8'

I. Dodecahedron
II. Recitative
III. Combobulation

The first movement of the Sonatina, Dodecahedron, is in a compact sonata form, with closely related (but rhythmically distinct) first and second themes, and a closing theme of leaping octaves. The second movement is a Recitative, with a declamatory clarinet line amid resonating piano harmonies. Combobulation is a lively swing that brings the Sonatina to its close.

Sonatina for Baritone Saxophone and Piano (2016) – 7'

I. Arches
II. Jaunt

The Sonatina for Baritone Saxophone was written for Ava Oaxaca, to whom it is dedicated. The first movement, Arches, is slow and spacious, exploring the warm, lyrical side of the bari sax. The second movement, Jaunt, is quick and jovial, with a spry theme prone to modulation.

Filament Canopy, for harp and percussion (2016) – 17'

I. Interlace
II. Bolt
III. Vestiges
Filament Canopy was composed for the Sticks & Strings Duo, comprised of Rosanna Moore and Trevor Bartlett. Interlace plays with repeating notes across different timbres and patterns twisting around each other, gradually forming into a theme. Bolt is rapid and rhythmic, throwing the theme from first movement into virtuosic figurations, along with new motives, until it shatters itself. Vestiges begins with void, slowly coalescing into a lilting melody, before fading away.

Gradients, for sinfonietta (2016) – 10'

The main idea in Gradients is that of harmonies and timbres overlapping with and metamorphosing into each other, much like with color gradients, in which one color turns into another without a clear point of delineation between them. For harmonies, I wanted a sense of harmonic motion, but for the point at which the harmonies shifted to be ambiguous, often pivoting around sustained common tones, so each harmony sounds a bit like the last. The second section takes the title in a rather different direction, with series of vigorous ascending (or occasionally descending) chords ricocheting off of whomps in the bass. A melody (quite unrelated to these ideas) also coalesces gradually through the piece until it forms into a clear statement in the trombone. By the end, all of these elements have come together and are overlapping and switching among each other.

Fred, for solo guitar (2016) – 3'30"

Fred was is a brief, virtuosic solo for guitar, composed for and titled by Infinity Willner.

Silver Awareness, for flute quartet (2016) – 8'

Silver Awareness was composed for the flute quartet Stranded Silver. It was inspired by Katrin Fridriks's painting Silver Awareness. The thick swaths of color surrounded by light trails and spatters of paint are rendered as swirling, fluid lines in the flutes and quick staccato figures. Amidst the color, Fridriks creates plant-like patterns in dark greys and white — a calmer second theme contrasting with the activity of the bright colors.

Branching, for nay, chang, tanbur, string quartet, and double bass (2016) – 6'

"Branching" was written for the Omnibus Ensemble's workshop "Omnibus Laboratorium: Peabody - Tashkent." One of the themes of the workshop was using some traditional Uzbek instruments — a nay (a type of flute), a tanbur (a plucked string instrument), and a chang (a hammered string instrument), along with Western instruments. Another theme incorporating traditional Maqom ornaments, many of which are microtonal — the Omnibus Ensemble had developed a system to show these in Western notation.
I figured that most people, given a microtonal prompt, would write a slow piece. So I wrote a fast one for contrast.

Striation, for flute, violin, horn, and double bass (2016) – 7'30"

Striation was composed for Louna Dekker-Vargas, Zach Travis, Ledah Finck, and Yoshi Horiguchi. Most of the material comes from the opening horn melody and a glissando figure introduced in the strings. The title comes from the use of instruments elaborating around a melodic line, branching off from or sustaining notes, creating textures of lines moving together.

Two Movements for Two Winds and Two Brass, for oboe, clarinet, trumpet, and trombone (2016) – 5'

I. Wind Shear
II. Brass Tacks

Two Movements for Two Winds and Two Brass was written for trumpeter Kate Amrine. The first movement, Wind Shear, is rather austere, with insistent sustained and repeated notes. The second, Brass Tacks, is energetic, with a theme between a dance and a fanfare, interrupted by groups of punching chords.

Close Enough, for two percussionists on identical sets of four different things (2016) – 4'30"

Vim, for flute and violin (2016) – 4'30"
Recording

Sonata for Flute and Piano (2016) – 23'
Recording

Light and Rain, for concert band (2016) – 6'

Obsidian, for two baritone saxophones, marimba, and piano (2015) – 14'
Recording

Much the Same Way That Ships Don't, for flute, violin, and piano (2015) – 4'

Through Knotted Space, for orchestra (2015) – 8'
Recording (reading)

Proximity, for flute and double bass (2015) – 8'

Diptych, for solo guitar (2015) – 10'

Spiraled Spires, for alto saxophone and piano (2015) – 8'30"

Conflux, for double woodwinds (flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon), four horns, and optional percussion (2015) – 5'

Snow and Ash, for harp and strings (string orchestra, sextet, or piano reduction) (2015) – 9'

In Chasms Deep, for percussion quartet (2015) – 11'

Saxophone Quartet: Angles and Intersections (2015) – 14'

Windrunner, for flute and piano (2015) – 8'
Recording

An Invisible Titan, for bass trombone and wind ensemble (2014) – 12'

Dew and Glass, for flute and guitar (2014) – 6'30"
Recording

Suite for Solo Double Bass (2014) – 20'
Recording

Seed Bismuth, for soprano saxophone, violoncello, and piano (2014) – 6'

Tendrils Above, for solo flute (2014) – 6'30"
Recording

A Herald on the Wind, for trumpet and wind ensemble (or piano reduction) (2012-2014) – 9'
Recording (trumpet and piano)

Coruscation, for orchestra (2012) or wind ensemble (2014) – 7'
Recording (orchestral version)

Edgedancer, for wind ensemble (2014) – 5'
Recording

Laser Gazelle, for two baritone saxophones, contrabassoon, and bass trombone (2014) – 6'
Recording

Braid, for wind ensemble (2014) – 6'30"

Brass Quintet, for two trumpets, horn, trombone, and tuba (2014) – 10'

Divertimento, for clarinet, violin, violoncello, and piano (2013) – 6'30"
Recording

Departure, for solo piano (2013) – 3'
Recording

Sonata for Bassoon and Piano (2013) – 13'
Recording

Ascend, for wind ensemble (2013) – 8'

Trio for two violins and viola (2013) – 20'

Suite on C, for solo violoncello (2013) – 20'

Axis, for piano trio (2013) – 7'

Breath and Aura, for two violins, two violas, and violoncello (2013) – 9'30"

Fractured Dances, for solo violin (2013) – 8'

Suite for Trumpet and Harp (2013) – 11'
Recording

Gargoyle, for trombone quartet (2013) – 5'
Recording

Passacaglia for Orchestra (2013) – 7'

Pairings, for saxophone trio (ATBari) (2013) – 10'
Recording

Core, for piano trio (2013) – 7'
Recording

Clarinet Quartet, for three Bb clarinets and one bass clarinet (2012) – 17'
Recording

Swirls, for alto flute, violin, and harp (2012) – 6'
Recording

Suite for Solo Horn (2012) – 11'
Recording

Sonata for Viola and Piano (2012) – 24'

Tale for Solo Violin (2012) – 20'
Recording

Chiaroscuro, for solo harp (2012) – 8'
Recording

Escenas de Ecuador, for ten or eleven violins (2011) – 10'
Recording

Elegy for Orchestra (2011) – 7'
Recording

Words in Steel, for solo percussion (2011) – 5'
Recording

Caprice, for four harps (2011) – 4'
Recording

Winter's Breath, for violoncello and harp (2010) 4'30"
Recording

Sonata

for Flute and Piano

Suite

for solo double bass

Vim

for flute and violin
 



More Recordings:

Snowdrift, for harp and piano

Sonatina for Clarinet and Piano

Gradients, for sinfonietta

Branching, for nay, chang, tanbur, and string quintet

Obsidian, for two baritone saxophones, percussion, and piano

Dew and Glass, for flute and guitar

Edgedancer, for wind ensemble

Windrunner, for flute and piano

Divertimento, for clarinet, violin, cello, and piano

Tendrils Above, for solo flute

Laser Gazelle, for two bari saxophones, contrabassoon, and bass trombone

Departure, for solo piano

Bassoon Sonata

Coruscation, for orchestra

Chiaroscuro, for solo harp

Gargoyle, for trombone quartet

Suite for Trumpet and Harp

Pairings, for saxophone trio

A Herald on the Wind, for trumpet and piano

Tale for Solo Violin

Core, for piano trio

Suite for Solo Horn

Escenas de Ecuador, for 10 or 11 violins

Invention, for oboe and piano

Elegy, for orchestra

Past performances:

Snowdrift (premiere)


Thursday, March 23, 2017 at 12:30 pm, Hatch Recital Hall, Eastman School of Music
Rosanna Moore (harp) and Sean (piano) premiered his piece Snowdrift.

Saxophone Quartet No. 1: Angles and Intersections


Wednesday, March 15, 2017 at 7:30pm, Britton Recital Hall, University of Michigan
The Saarinen Quartet performed Sean's saxophone quartet on the University of Michigan Saxophone Studio Recital.

Vim


Friday, March 3, 2017 at 8 pm, First Unitarian Church, Baltimore MD
The Witches performed Vim on a concert in Baltimore.

Saxophone Quartet No. 1: Angles and Intersections (Premiere)


Friday, March 3, 2017 at 10:20 am, Rhinehart Recital Hall
The Saarinen Quartet premiered Sean's saxophone quartet at the North American Saxophone Alliance's Region V conference.

Sonatina for Baritone Saxophone and Piano (Premiere)


Wednesday, February 15, 2017 at 8:00 pm, George Mason University
Ava Oaxaca (saxophone), and Yuniko Harada (piano) premiered my Bari Sax Sonatina on Ava's recital.

Sonatina for Clarinet and Piano (Premiere)


Thursday, February 9, 2017 at 8:00 pm, Hatch Recital Hall, Eastman School of Music
Nick Morandi (clarinet) and Sean (piano) premiered Sean's Clarinet Sonatina.

Edgedancer


Thursday, February 2, 2017 at 8:00 pm, at Ingram Recital Hall, Blair School of Music
The Vanderbilt Wind Symphony, conducted by Thomas Verrier, performed Edgedancer;

Sonata for Flute and Piano (Premiere)


Friday, January 27, 2017 at 8:00 pm, at Field Concert Hall, Curtis Institute of Music
Emma Resmini (flute) and Michelle Cann (piano) premiered my Sonata for Flute and Piano.

Windrunner


Thursday, January 26, 2017 at the University of Nottingham
Emily Fox performed Windrunner in her recital at the University of Nottingham.

Vim


Friday, December 17, 2016 at 8:00 pm, at Jordan Faye Contemporary
The Witches performed Vim as part of their Thrive Music No. 3

Gradients (Premiere)


Thursday, November 10, 2016 at 8:00 pm, at Kilbourn Hall, Eastman School of Music
The Eastman Composers' Sinfonietta premiered Gradients.

Postludes (Partial Premiere)


Thursday, September 22, 2016 at 12:30 pm, at Hatch Hall, Eastman School of Music
I performed five of my Postludes for piano on the first student composers' forum of the academic year.

Striation (Premiere)


Wednesday, May 11, 2016 at noon, at Hurd Hall, John Hopkins Medical Institute
Louna Dekker-Vargas (flute), Ledah Finck (violin), Zach Travis (horn), and Yoshi Horiguchi (bass) premiered Striation at their concert Tubes and Strings: A Collage of Improvisation and Premieres.

Vim (Premiere)


Wednesday, May 11, 2016 at noon, at Hurd Hall, John Hopkins Medical Institute
The Witches – Louna Dekker-Vargas (flute) and Ledah Finck (violin) premiered Vim at their concert Tubes and Strings: A Collage of Improvisation and Premieres.

Suite for Solo Horn


Wednesday, May 11, 2016 at noon, at Hurd Hall, John Hopkins Medical Institute
Zach Travis will perform the Suite for Solo Horn on the concert Tubes and Strings: A Collage of Improvisation and Premieres.

Dew and Glass


Wednesday, May 5, 2016 at 8:00, in Field Concert Hall, Curtis Institute of Music
Emma Resmini (flute) and Xiaobo Pu (guitar) performed Dew and Glass.

Two Pieces for Two Winds and Two Brass (Premiere)


Thursday, April 28, 2016 at 6:00, in Centre Street Performance Space, Peabody Institute
Kate Amrine (trumpet), along with Jing Dai (oboe), James Duncan (clarinet), and Sarah Lewandowski (trombone), premiered Two Movements for Two Winds and Two Brass.

Laser Gazelle


Saturday, April 23, 2016 at 7:00, in Choral Hall, Blair School of Music
John Michael Williams (bari sax.), Erin Elgass (bari sax.), Lydia Nance (contrabassoon), and Brian Entwistle (bass trombone) performed Laser Gazelle.

Seed Bismuth


Sunday, April 17, 2016 at 8:30, in Centre Street Performance Space, Peabody Institute
Anastasia Kupstas (soprano sax.), Joseph Staten (cello), and Cynthia Sun (piano) performed Seed Bismuth at Ana's recital.

Obsidian (Premiere)


Wednesday, March 2, 2016 at 7:30, in Griswold Hall, Peabody Institute
Taylor Scott Brooks (bari sax.), Sean Campbell (bari sax.), Christina Manceor (marimba), and Sean William Calhoun (piano) premiered Obisidan.

In Chasms Deep (Premiere)


Monday, December 14, 2015 at 8:00, in Joe Byrd Hall, Peabody Institute
The Milieu Quartet will perform the winners of their call for scores, including In Chasms Deep.

Suite on C


Saturday, December 12, 2015 at 4:30 p.m., in Centre Street Performance Space, Peabody Institute
Joseph Staten performed Suite on C in a recital of my solo suites for low strings.

Suite for Solo Double Bass (Premiere)


Saturday, December 12, 2015 at 4:30 p.m., in Centre Street Performance Space, Peabody Institute
Alex Fournier premiered my double bass suite in a recital of my solo suites for low strings.

Much the Same Way That Ships Don't (Premiere)


Thursday, December 3, 2015 at 7:30 p.m., in Cohen-Davison Theatre, Peabody Institute
Wednesday, December 9, 2015 at 2:30 p.m., in Cohen-Davison Theatre, Peabody Institute
Louna Dekker-Vargas (flute), Minjin Lee (violin), and Selene Wu (piano) premiered Much the Same Way That Ships Don't on the second composition studio recital of the academic year, then played it again on one of the end-of-semester chamber music recitals at Peabody.

Through Knotted Space (Reading)


Friday, November 20, 2015 at 2:30, Friedberg Hall, Peabody Institute
The Peabody Symphony Orchestra read three student compositions, including Through Knotted Space.

Conflux (Premiere)


Wednesday, November 18, 2015 at 7:00, Woods Hall, W.O. Smith Music School
The winds (and one percussionist) of the W.O. Smith Faculty Orchestra premiered Conflux.

Edgedancer (Premiere)


Wednesday, October 14, 2015 at 7:30, Miriam A. Friedberg Concert Hall, Peabody Institute
The Peabody Wind Ensemble premiered Edgedancer on their first concert of the semester. The recording is here.

Windrunner


Sunday, October 11, 2015 at 6:00, Steve and Judy Turner Recital Hall, Blair School of Music
Ann Mozina performed Windrunner on her Junior Flute Recital

There are a few reasons you might wish to contact me:

1) You would like to play my music, and need the score/parts. I can provide those.

2) You have a question about my music. I have an answer.

3) You would like me to engrave music for you. I have Sibelius 6, and more knowledge of keyboard shortcuts than you.

4) You would like me to compose music for you. I have ideas, and the ability to compose quickly if necessary.

For all of those purposes, my e-mail address is ComposerAndPianist [at] gmail [dot] com.