Seán was introduced to music through the Irish fiddle tradition of his hometown of Derry. He read music at St John’s College, Cambridge, after which he completed a PhD in musicology at Trinity College Dublin. He is now an assistant professor of music in Dublin City University, where he lectures in music history, harmony and counterpoint, and contemporary composition. With his colleague, the choral conductor Dr Róisín Blunnie, he leads DCU's new MA in Choral Studies, the first course of its kind in Ireland. Seán is active as a choral singer, singing with the internationally acclaimed chamber choir New Dublin Voices, conducted by Dr Bernie Sherlock.
Seán’s choral works and commissions have received many international performances and have garnered numerous awards: he has won the Feis Ceoil choral composition award, the Choir and Organ Magazine composition competition, the St Giles’s Cathedral Edinburgh anthem composition competition, the Fragments Choral Composition Award (in association with Historic Scotland), and prizes for best contemporary work at international choral festivals Florilège Vocal de Tours, France, and Béla Bartok Competition, Hungary. His choral works have been performed by choirs including the choir of Merton College, Oxford, Kamikuoro Kampin Laulu, Finland, the National Youth Choir of Scotland, Chicago a cappella, Grant Park Chorus, Chicago, Laetare Vocal Ensemble, the Mornington Singers, and New Dublin Voices.
Seán has also written much chamber music: he has twice been awarded the Young Composers’ Bursary at the West Cork Chamber Music Festival (2013, 2014), and the Jerome Hynes composition competition (2011). Commissions have been received by Vanbrugh Quartet, West Cork Chamber Music Festival, and EstOvest Festival. He has been selected for the ‘Adopt a Composer’ programme in association with Making Music and BBC Radio 3, and the ‘Composer Lab’ project for the Contemporary Music Centre, Ireland.