Honored February 21, 2009
Endearingly on the wall in Sean’s house hangs the fiddle that he played his first note on at the tender age of four. He can recall reading music before he could read words. There was little doubt that he would continue the tradition and love of Irish music that his family fostered.
Sean was born and raised in New York of Irish born parents, Louis (Armagh) and Mary (Monaghan) Quinn. He is the eldest boy of the seven musical Quinn children; the son of Hall of Fame recipient, Louis Quinn, one of the founding fathers of the Irish Musicians Association, which later became Comhaltas. The Quinn Family is honored by having the Mineola branch named after him and long time friend, John Mulligan.
It is with undying gratitude that Sean thanks and reminisces about his father’s insight of steeping him in traditional musical. His formidable years were spent playing music with his family on both sides of the Atlantic, performing in venues reaching from ABC TV to Radio Telefis Erin and the BBC. They crossed the ocean numerous times to perform and tour. As a youth Sean won almost every major championship, both in Ireland and America.
The Quinn house was the Ellis Island for immigrating Irish musicians. Throughout Sean’s early years he was continually exposed to countless sessions with the prominent musicians of the era Sean developed a close relationship with many of them, most notably Sean McGuire, James “Lad” O’Brien and Ed Reavy and in Ireland with John Doherty and the Rowsome Family. To date, Sean has composed over 300 original tunes and songs and credits Ed Reavy with being his mentor. His new CD, “The Mountain’s Still Standing, is the third CD of his original tunes.
Sean considers himself to have been fortunate to have grown up living and learning traditional music but also having been schooled classically. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Music, a Master’s Degree in Music Theory/Musicology and a Master’s Degree in Music Education. In addition, he has been an adjunct professor of music at several local colleges.
Throughout Sean’s life he has fostered Irish music in many different areas and has been successful in each. Sean was the leader of the dance band, The Druids, for almost thirty years and performed at all the leading Irish venues. He founded the Quinn School of Music in 1968, and he continues to encourage the next generation to carry on the tradition in the New York area. He further promotes Irish traditional music in the public school music curriculum, composing and arranging pieces for school orchestras. Sean is a sought after clinician, working with string teachers on Long Island and New York State in all areas of traditional music.
Sean has been married for 34 years to Cathy (Burke) a former champion Irish step dancer. His three children, Christopher, Tara and Heather, are all fiddle players and singers and are featured on his latest CD. Sean and Cathy currently reside on the north shore of Long Island.
And so Sean has come full circle, back to his roots, with traditional fiddling, promoting it, recording it teaching it, living it and loving it He continues to work as a musician, teacher, composer and arranger and in all regards remains a consummate professional musician.