Hugh Sheehan is a musician—multi-instrumentalist, composer, producer— from Birmingham, now based between the UK and Finland. He grew up in Birmingham in an Irish family surrounded by music, and began playing the diatonic button accordion at the age of 6, and the piano, drum kit and percussion not long after. A love of music would lead him down many paths over the subsequent years, including playing at traditional folk festivals around the UK and Ireland, stints in various indie bands in his teenage years, before eventually studying Composition and Music Technology. During this time Hugh developed a passion for American minimalism, as well as experimental electronic music. After graduating with a BMus (hons) from the Royal Welsh Academy of Music and Drama, he moved to Helsinki where all of the strands of his musical life, until now somewhat disparate, began to entangle. He graduated from the Sibelius Academy with an MMus in 2015.
Sheehan plays with and writes for several projects, including his own ensemble with whom he premiered the evening-length composition Act of Discovery in Finland's national music centre in 2017, and for whom he is currently writing an interdisciplinary chamber opera, supported by the Kone Foundation. In 2019 he was commissioned by BBC Arts and Arts Council England to make an audio work for their New Creatives series. The work, Lost Time, explores the time lost and experiences gained by LGBTQ+ people in getting to truly be themselves. He was recently commissioned by The Sunday Boys and Melo'Men through Institut Français’s fund for contemporary music to write a new work for low-voice choir and accordion, which will premiere in Paris’s Temple des Batignolles on 11th June 2023. His debut album Shapes That Are Different is a contemplation of shame, desire, and queer selfhood, and will be released on 2nd June via Hybrid Forms.
Hugh also work as composer and sound designer for theatre, with recent productions at Park Theatre, Finborough Theatre, Vault Festival, and the Gate Theatre (London), the Richard Burton Theatre (Cardiff), Vapaan Taiteen Tila (Helsinki), and The Old Rep (Birmingham) working alongside directors such as Gabriella Bird, Ned Bennett, Christa Harris, Josh Roche, and Charlotte Westenra.
In addition to his artistic practice, Hugh is co-founder, co-director and chairperson of The Trip to Birmingham TradFest, an Irish traditional music festival in the UK’s second city, and Helsinki concert series/record label Hybrid Forms.