Though San Francisco is technically his hometown, Sean MacLean has long harbored a love for the moss, ferns, and of course, “espresso shots with legs” of Seattle. After several life-altering visits to the Pacific Northwest (think, running barefoot in rainforests and paddling with otters) Sean made the move official in 2005 when he first joined Classical KING.
Sean received his Masters from Yale School of Music, where he studied with Pulitzer Prize winners Lukas Foss and Jacob Druckman. Determined to understand each link in the chain of music production from composition, through performance and recording, to listener, Sean formed a recording business, Standing Wave Audio, while living in Paris for five years. Following his time abroad, he took a job in radio production for WGBH in Boston.
As a pianist and composer, Sean began to fill his trophy case with his international award-winning works which have been performed by choirs and orchestras on both sides of the Atlantic, including London’s BBC Symphony. Though he still spends time playing guitar, flugelhorn, and Remora™, an electroacoustic harp-guitar of his own invention, Sean also enjoys spending his free time in the great outdoors that ordinally brought him to Washington. As a published travel photographer, he now concentrates on his Northwest surroundings, where he takes his camera on moonlight kayaking, telemark skiing, and kitesurfing adventures. Once, while standing on top of Mt. Rainier in 2006, Sean screamed so loudly that he lost his radio voice for a few days.
Q&A with Sean
KING: Let’s say you have a free day to spend somewhere beautiful. Are you heading to the beach or the mountains? In the Pacific Northwest, of course, we have easy access to both.
Sean: Ski in the morning before it gets slushy, then down to water, to kitesurf.
KING: Favorite type of food?
Sean: Bow-hunted game, Kusshi oysters, Cascades slope mushrooms in French butter, glass of Washington State Mourvèdre.
KING: It’s game night! Are you hoping for a board/tabletop game, a video game, or a sporting event?
Sean: What’s game night?
KING: Beatles or Rolling Stones? (Or Bach or Beethoven?)
Sean: Pink Floyd. Production values matter!
KING: What music might people be surprised to learn you listen to — when you’re not listening to KING, that is?
Sean: Audiobooks of great novels read by stellar actors while I cook. Better than reading locked in a chair any day.
KING: What classical composers, living or dead, haven’t gotten their fair dose of attention — which composers aren’t “household names” but should be?
Sean: Monteverdi, Rebecca Clarke, Scriabin, Duruflé, Frank Ferko.
KING: If your classical music collection was entirely vinyl records, which of those records would be nearly worn-out from being played dozens of times? In other words, what music do you come back to, over and over again?
Sean: Rite of Spring, Brahms Op. 8 Trio, Mahler 2, Prokofiev piano concertos 2 & 3, Thomas Newman soundtracks, Djivan Gasparyan, Mompou’s Musica Callada.
KING: What pieces of music do you turn to when you need comfort, solace, or relaxation?
Sean: Gerald Finzi’s Introit, Ian Bostridge singing Schubert’s “Nacht und Träume,” Duruflé’s Requiem, and Baltic choral music.
KING: Let’s say you’re hosting a musical dinner party or cocktail party, and you can invite three composers or performers, living or dead. Whom do you invite?
Sean: Martha Argerich, Leonard Bernstein, George Gershwin.