the solo improvisations

“…a singular voice: gorgeous, fluid, and inventive.”

Marlene Pauley
music director, Wayzata Symphony Orchestra
former clarinetist, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra

One of my favorite ways to express myself is through solo improvisation on the clarinet. I love the challenge of spontaneously creating a piece of music that is coherent and engaging, using only a single melodic line, as well as the freedom to respond authentically to my surroundings, and to follow the music wherever it leads. For me, it is both a deep exploration of myself, and a way to more fully inhabit the space I am in.

“Sean Egan’s expert clarinet work immediately transforms a space: echoes of free form jazz, sounds of nature, and familiar melodies open the mind and enliven the senses.” -Kathryn Kysar, author of poetry collections Dark Lake and Pretend the World

Pop-up musical performance in the Modern and Contemporary galleries by clarinetist Sean Egan; galleries 373-377
Sean Egan and Erika Hansen New Ruckus Studio Z 1 2017 05 17 cropped

I perform these improvisations in a variety of settings: traditional concert venues, unconventional spaces such as art galleries and public parks, and in collaboration with artists in other disciplines. Among the places I have performed are the Bryant-Lake Bowl, Studio Z, the Como Park Conservatory, the Saint Paul Public Library, the Walker Art Center, and the Cowles Center for Dance and the Performing Arts.

Some of my more notable projects include a series of weekly pop-up performances in public spaces in the Twin Cities in the spring and summer of 2017, a year-long series of monthly pop-up performances in the galleries at the Minneapolis Institute of Art in 2013-2014, and long-term collaborative partnerships with poet Kathryn Kysar and dancer/choreographer Erika Hansen.

Videos from the 2017 Pop-up Series

Brackett Field Tunnel, June 6, 2017
Raspberry Island, June 2, 2017
Brownie Lake, September 23, 2017
Newell Park, May 4, 2017
“In 2013, when I was Head of Interpretation & Participatory Experiences at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, Sean inquired about performing solo clarinet in the museum's galleries. I loved the idea of trying an informal pop-up performance. Sean and I collaborated to select galleries, and he thoughtfully created music for the setting.
Over the next year or so, Sean gave eleven roving pop-up performances in the museum's European and American art galleries. The depth and warmth of his sound floating through the gallery spaces surprised and delighted museum visitors, adding a memorable auditory element to their visual art experience.” -Amanda Thompson Rundahl, Director of Learning & Engagement, St. Louis Art Museum

I especially enjoy performing in unconventional settings. I think of these improvisations in part as a dialog with my environment, and when I am out in the world, I often find myself inspired by a particular spot, thinking “This would be a great place to play!”

I also find it very satisfying to offer live music in unexpected places, as a way of livening up the community. My hope is to pull people out of themselves and get them more in touch with their surroundings, and give them a sense that the world is full of unexpected possibilities.

Sean Egan Brownie Lake graffiti 1 (3)
Sean Egan at Open Book's 'Pretend the World'
“In 2009 and 2010, clarinetist Sean Egan appeared with several renowned Minnesota writers at Neighborhood Voices, a program at St. Paul’s Hamline Midway Library that paired literary artists with musicians. His improvised musical interludes set a wonderful tone for the events.
He also accompanied a number of the readings. I was amazed by Sean’s ability to spontaneously improvise music to accompany writers he’d never met until the night he performed with them. He instantly picked up on the tone and themes of their work and complemented their words in beautiful, elegant style.” -Carrie Pomeroy, writer and curator of Neighborhood Voices

More Clarinet Improvisations from Sean Egan

with Kathryn Kysar
with Erika Hansen
at Studio Z
“The Pigeon”: Alone, Raining
“The Snake”: Alone, Raining