“Shibe’s music-making is masterful, beautiful and convincing in every way”
(The Times, 2020)
With his remarkable versatility and creative programming, Sean Shibe brings a fresh and innovative approach to the traditional classical guitar by experimenting with instruments and repertoire.
The first guitarist to be selected for the BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artists scheme, and to be awarded a Borletti-Buitoni Trust Fellowship, Shibe was a prize-winner at the 2015YCAT International Auditions. In 2018, he became the first guitarist to receive the Royal Philharmonic Society Award for Young Artists and the following year he won a Gramophone Award in the newly-created ‘Concept Album’ category for his critically acclaimed recording softLOUD. Further awards include the Royal Over-Seas League First Prize and Gold Medal (2011); Ivor Mairants Guitar Award (2009); and a Dewar Arts and D’Addarrio endorsement.
Sean is committed to the music of the great masters of the past and has made his own transcriptions of Bach lute suites and seventeenth century Scottish lute manuscripts. He is also continuing to expand the repertoire for his instrument by conceiving imaginative programmes featuring new music and commissions. Recent and future performances include music by Daniel Kidane, David Fennessy, Sofia Gubaidulina, Thomas Ades, Shiva Feshareki, David Lang, Julia Wolfe and the premiere of a reworked version of Georges Lentz’s Ingwe, in collaboration with the composer himself. New commissions include David Fennessy, Daniel Kidane, Sir James Macmillan, Mark Simpson, Sylvia Villa and Freya Waley-Cohen.
After a 5 star recital of electric and acoustic guitar works at Wigmore Hall in March 2020, he was one of the first artists to return to the Hall for their new socially-distanced concert series in June, giving a recital of Scottish Lute Manuscripts, Bach and Steve Reich’s Electric Counterpoint, receiving 5 stars from The Guardian for his “irresistible style and authority…a nonchalant virtuoso and boundary breaker”. Shibe’s new chart-topping recording of Bach lute suites arranged for guitar was also released in May 2020 on Delphian Records. The disc received considerable critical attention: the disc was named Editor’s Choice of Gramophone Magazine’s June 2020 issue; The Times and The Scotsman both awarded the disc five stars and it spent 3 weeks at number 1 in the UK Specialist Classical Charts.
In 2020, Shibe signed an exclusive, multi-album agreement with Pentatone. The collaboration will be distinguished by the range and diversity for which Shibe is already known. His first solo recording on Pentatone will focus on Spanish impressionism and the French influences to be found in this music, presenting works by composers including Mompou, Poulenc, de Falla, and Ravel.
“Shibe’s playing in this warhorse was superlative…There was rhythmic exactitude across metallic, gutsy passagework in the first movement…Most remarkable, perhaps, was the featherlight touch and whisper quiet of the second movement’s cadenza… In the final movement he was rugged and playfully astringent, navigating Rodrigo’s rhythmic games with élan.”
“The greatest performers always push the boundaries, and that 28-year-old Sean Shibe […] is already in their select company. The spell, as always with Shibe, was total; no other guitarist that I know of is working at this artistic level.”
(The Arts Desk, 2020)
“…there’s no doubting that he himself is an artist blessed with grace to spare, and a roar that is fearsome”
(5*, BBC Music Magazine, Instrumental Choice, 2020)
“SoftLOUD is a gripping recital from guitarist Sean Shibe, dealing in extremes – I suspect his beautifully touched-in accounts of pieces from 17th-century Scottish manuscripts will get more living-room plays than Julia Wolfe’s LAD, an abrasive electric-guitar scream originally conceived for nine bagpipes. In between, he also supplies a definitive performance of Steve Reich’s Electric Counterpoint.”
(The Guardian, 2018)
“Shibe imbues the early Scottish lute pieces with a profoundly moving intensity that carries them far beyond their modest frames, through to the MacMillan arrangements, themselves as much transitions from the old to the new as Reich’s Electric Counterpoint, which seems to gather the previous works in a boppy afterparty. Then they are torn apart in Julia Wolfe’s LAD, a searing siren song of lamentation originally for nine bagpipes. And Lang’s explosive Killer, originally for electric violin. But try listening to ‘softLOUD’ in reverse order, and remember Britten’s Nocturnal.”
“A word of warning: in these desolate stretches, Sean Shibe may steal your heart with his guitar solo.”