Composer and pianist Sean Friar (b. 1985) grew up in Los Angeles, where his first musical experiences were in rock and blues piano improvisation. His music keeps in touch with the energy and communicative directness of those musical roots, now along with an expansive and exploratory classical sensibility that is “refreshingly new and solidly mature… and doesn’t take on airs, but instead takes joy in the process of discovery [and] in the continual experience of suspense and surprise that good classical music has always championed.” (Slate Magazine)
He enjoys composing for ensembles within and outside traditional concert music. His output ranges from works for orchestra and chamber ensembles to a junk car percussion concerto and music for laptop orchestra. He has received commissions from the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Berlin Philharmonic Scharoun Ensemble, American Composers Orchestra, Alarm Will Sound, Ensemble Modern, Cabrillo Festival, New York Youth Symphony, NOW Ensemble, the Eastman Wind Ensemble, the Curtis Institute, and Present Music. His music has been featured at festivals around the world, including Aspen, Bang on a Can, Bowdoin, Cabrillo, Carlsbad, GAUDEAMUS, International Young Composers Meeting, Norfolk, Nuova Consonanza, SONIC, the Venice Biennale, and the World Saxophone Congress.
A recent winner of the Rome Prize, Friar has received awards from Copland House, Fromm Foundation, American Academy of Arts and Letters, Chamber Music America, ASCAP, Composers Inc., and New Music USA. His music can be found on New Amsterdam Records, Innova Recordings, and Crescent Phase Records. In 2020, he will release an album-length composition, Before and After, with NOW Ensemble on New Amsterdam Records.
Friar is Assistant Professor of Composition at the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music, where he is also the Director of Graduate Studies in Analysis. He holds a Ph.D. in Music Composition from Princeton University, where he held the Harold W. Dodds Honorific Fellowship and the Roger Sessions Fellowship. He graduated summa cum laude from UCLA with undergraduate degrees in Music and Psychology. His principal teachers were Paul Chihara, Paul Lansky, Steven Mackey, and Dmitri Tymoczko.