Sean Sutherland is a classical pianist from St. Vincent and the Grenadines who has had major successes on the world stage for his performances. In parallel, he has made significant contributions in the region as an engineer and educator. But his most significant accomplishments are in music. Mr Sutherland’s pursuit of music was made conditional upon his academic success by his parents, so his life story has been one of dual achievement.
He topped primary and secondary school exams while excelling at the Associate Board of the Royal Schools of Music exams. In so doing, he earned a scholarship to study music at one of the Royal Schools in the UK before writing O-levels and winning the Island Scholarship in St. Vincent. He declined the British scholarship and entered the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US where he earned multiple degrees in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science alongside a degree in Music.
He participated in the musical life of the institution, serving as an accompanist and playing in several ensembles, and was named an MIT Arts Scholar (1998-2000). He received the prestigious Weisner Prize from the institute for his significant service to the arts there. He was also active in Caribbean Club, a student organization for which he performed and trained students for cultural showcases and served as its president,
Mr Sutherland also maintains a deep interest in education and has managed to fuse his work and his art as a teacher, engineer, and entrepreneur. As a lecturer at the University of the West Indies, St Augustine (2005-2008) he designed courses in Music Science and Acoustics, and mentored students in acoustic design. Following this, he pursued an MBA at McGill University in Canada (2009-2010).
Upon completion, he founded an educational consulting firm The Prep Area in Canada (2011-2016). He also earned a degree in Learning Design and Technology at Stanford University (2016-2017) where he was awarded a scholarship for private piano studies. His performances span the region and beyond. Some of his recitals include solo performances at the Steinway Halls in Plano and Forth Worth, Texas, USA (2018) and Gasteig in Munich, Germany (2017).
He has done collaborative performances with the National Sinfornia Orchestra of Trinidad (2009 and 2010) and the National Steel Symphony Orchestra in Trinidad (2011 and 2014), the Mountain View Los Altos Adult Orchestra (2017, 2018, and 2019), the Odin Quartet and Ébène in Toronto, Canada (2020), and the California Concerto Festival Orchestra (2020).
Mr Sutherland has also made his mark in major competitions: The Van Cliburn (semifinalist, 2016), the Chopin Competition in Poland (prize for the best waltz, 2018), the Piano Bridges Competition in Russia (finalist, 2019), and the Piano Lovers Over 40 competition in Italy (2nd place, 2019).
While he now lives in Canada, he remains involved in regional and local musical education and practice, an involvement that started during his formative years in his native St Vincent.
In his teen years, he was an accompanist for the New Kingstown Chorale, with whom he continues to have an ongoing collaboration, and founded the singing group Suede, the most famous member of which is Kevin Lyttle. In 2004-2005, he collaborated extensively with the Rhythmix Steel Orchestra.
He has also taught and tutored in music extensively in St. Vincent. Over the years, Mr Sutherland has performed either as a soloist or collaboratively in Bonaire, Trinidad, Barbados, St. Vincent, St. Lucia, Dominica, Antigua, Turks & Caicos, The Cayman Islands, Jamaica, and Cuba. He was an accompanist for the 100 Voice Project in Barbados (2013, 2014, & 2015). Most recently, he has collaborated with the Starlift Steel Orchestra (St. Vincent) and has performed at the Frank Collymore Hall (Barbados) and at the Peace Memorial Hall (St. Vincent).