Sean Brennan is a violist and music educator in Metropolitan Detroit, where he joins the faculty of Bloomfield Hills High School as its orchestra director for the 2023-24 school year. Mr. Brennan is entering his eighth year of teaching in Michigan, having taught for two years at Battle Creek Lakeview School District and for five years at Portage Public Schools. He has taught middle and high school orchestra, high school band, IB Music, and beginning guitar. He has served as the Vice President of Orchestral Activities for District XI of the Michigan School Band and Orchestra Association, and chaired an MSBOA District XI committee for the development of best teaching practices during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As a freelance violist, Mr. Brennan performs professionally 15 to 20 times per year. He has performed with orchestras such as the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra, Battle Creek Symphony, and Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra. He served as Principal Viola for the Altoona (PA) Symphony Orchestra’s 2014-15 season. Mr. Brennan is a frequent chamber music collaborator of world-renowned violinist Andrew Sords, former Cavani Quartet violinist Mari Sato, and Cleveland Institute of Music faculty pianist Elizabeth DeMio. He has been fortunate to play under the batons of conductors Manfred Honeck, Gerard Schwarz, Leonard Slatkin, Joshua Bell, and Joseph Silverstein, and to perform onstage with soloists Yo-Yo Ma, Conrad Tao, Stefan Jackiw, Christopher O’Reilly, and Marc-André Hamelin.
Mr. Brennan believes in a comprehensive approach to the teaching and learning of music. While there is no substitute for consistent and focused practice, Mr. Brennan asserts that a sense of purpose will lead to inspired and quality practice, yielding greater musical fulfillment. He expects his students not only to be able to correctly execute a passage of music, but to weigh technical and stylistic considerations, using both mechanical knowledge of the instrument and historical and artistic context to support musical decision-making. He is pleased to have directed many groups that received Division I “Superior” ratings at MSBOA adjudicated events, but he is most proud of the student leaders he has mentored, who have been able to lead sectional rehearsals unassisted, plan and lead section bonding and freshman welcome events, promote and publicize concerts to increase attendance, and contribute to the planning of full rehearsal periods.
Mr. Brennan holds a Bachelor’s degree from Western Michigan University, where he studied with Igor Fedotov, and a Master’s degree from Carnegie Mellon University, where he studied with David Harding. He is a 2012 inductee into the Pi Kappa Lambda national honor society in music. Mr. Brennan plays on a viola made by Bronek Cison in 2006 and a bow made by Bernard Millant in 1961.