Sean Alastair Ferguson

Academic title(s): 

Dean, Associate Professor

Sean Alastair Ferguson
Music Research
Music Composition
Contact Information
Email address: [at]
Areas of expertise: 

Instrumental and mixed composition, computer-assisted composition, traditional music of Ireland, artistic applications of music technology (digital signal processing, gestural controllers for digital musical instruments, real time computer interaction, etc.), musical applications of symbolic computation, incorporating psychoacoustics and music cognition into the compositional process.


Sean Ferguson teaches composition and co-directs the Digital Composition Studios. He began his second term as Dean of the Schulich School of Music in 2022, having previously served as Dean from 2011-16. He was Director of the Centre for Interdiscplinary Research in Music Media and Technology (CIRMMT) from 2009-2011 and Associate Director (Artistic) of CIRMMT from 2006-09. From 1997-2001 he was a counsellor of the Société québécoise de recherche en musique, for whom he was the artistic coordinator of three different week-long festivals of Quebec music. From 1999-2009 he was a member of the artistic committee of the Société de musique contemporaine du Québec.

Sean Ferguson was born in the remote Northern-Alberta community of Fort Vermilion. He has lived in Montreal since 1990, where he studied composition at McGill University. His fascination with the mechanics of perception have led him to carry out extensive research in psychoacoustics and to incorporate these findings into his compositional language. The computational demands of these psychoacoustic models has also sparked his interest in computer-assisted composition.

His works include:

  • Inside Passage for piano and large ensemble (1999)
  • Marées-Strates-Envolée for solo piano (1994-99)
  • Apocryphal Graffiti for chamber orchestra (2000)
  • Heiligenstadt for string orchestra (2001)
  • Corranach for flute, cello and piano (2002)
  • In the Flesh, for large orchestra (2003)
  • Éan agus madraí/Birds & Dogs, for ensemble and live electronics (2010)
  • Les Gestes for violin, cello, two dancers and live electronics with novel gestural controllers. With Marlon Schumacher (2013)
  • Bean Dubh A' Ghleanna, for Baroque flute and live electronics (2019)
  • Wandering Aengus, for flute, violin, cello and piano (2019)
  • Fataí Bána, Carraig Dubh, for Uilleann pipes and live electronics (2020)


Ensembles that have performed his music include the Philharmonic Orchestra of Radio-France, the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, the Société de musique contemporaine du Québec, Les Temps modernes de Lyon, I Musici de Montreal and the Ensemble contemporain de Montréal, among others. 


Teaching areas: 

Instrumental and Digital Composition / Co-Director, McGill Digital Composition Studios

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