Composer and pianist, SEAN FRIAR (b. 1985) grew up in Los Angeles, where his first musical experiences were in rock and blues piano improvisation. While his focus soon shifted toward classical music, his composition has always kept in touch with the energy and communicative directness of those musical roots, now along with an expansive and flexible classical sensibility that is “refreshingly new and solidly mature… and doesn’t take on airs, but instead takes joy in the process of discovery – in the continual experience of suspense and surprise – that good classical music has always championed.” (Slate Magazine).
He thrives on composing for ensembles both within and outside the realm of traditional concert music, and his recent commissions run the gamut from string quartets and wind quintets to a junk car percussion concerto and music for laptop orchestra. His music has been performed throughout the world by ensembles including the Berlin Philharmonic Scharoun Ensemble(Germany), Argento Ensemble, So Percussion, Crash Ensemble (Ireland),Ensemble Klang (Netherlands), the American Composers Orchestra, New York Youth Symphony, Alter Ego (Italy), Orkest de Ereprijs (Netherlands),Psappha (UK), Darmstadt Staatsorchester (Germany), ensemble Interface (Germany), Newspeak, Janus, Line C3 Percussion, Quintet of the Americas, Formalist Quartet, Matmos, members of the Bang on a Can All-Stars, and 4-time Grammy-winning percussionist, Glen Velez. Festivals featuring his music include Aspen, Bang on a Can, Bowdoin, GAUDEAMUS Muziekweek, International Young Composers Meeting, La Pietra Forum for New Music, Norfolk, Nuova Consonanza, Nuovi Spazi Musicali, RadialSystem, SONiC, and the Venice Biennale. In 2011, he had two works premiered at Carnegie Hall, including Clunker Concerto, his junk car concerto for percussion quartet and orchestra.
The youngest winner of the Rome Prize in over 25 years, Friar’s honors include the Aaron Copland Award; Charles Ives Scholarship; a Chamber Music America Classical Commissioning Grant; four ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Awards; Lee Ettelson Award; First Music Award; Renee B. Fisher Award; as well as awards from eighth blackbird, Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, SCI/ASCAP, and the Hawaii Institute of Contemporary Music.
Recordings of his music can be found on New Amsterdam Records (NOW Ensemble, Awake), Innova Recordings (Mariel Roberts, nonextraneous sounds), Darling Records (Darmstadt Staatsorchester, Soli fan tutti), TRANSIT’s self-released TRANSIT EP, and Crescent Phase Records (Madera Quintet, Five at Play.)
Friar is a Ph.D. candidate at Princeton University (M.F.A. 2009), where he has held the Harold W. Dodds Honorific Fellowship and the Roger Sessions Fellowship. He graduated summa cum laude from UCLA in 2007 with B.A.’s in Music and Psychology. His principal teachers have been Steven Mackey, Paul Lansky, Dmitri Tymoczko, Paul Chihara, and Ian Krouse. In 2012-2013, he will be Lecturer of Music at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music.