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ARIA nominated teacher shares creative insights

Dr Sean Foran is an award-winning jazz artist and Program Chair of Creative Industries. We caught up with Sean to discuss his ARIA nomination for Best Jazz Album as part of a trio featuring the vocal talents of Kristin Berardi, and saxophonist Rafael Karlen, and his development of SAE's exciting new creative industries course for undergraduates.

This year’s ARIA award nominations, recognise the talents of award-winning pianist, composer, and researcher Dr Sean Foran. As one part of a trio featuring the vocal talents of Kristin Berardi, and saxophonist Rafael Karlen, their serene and soothing album, Haven has been nominated for Jazz Album of the Year. Now Program Chair for Creative Industries at SAE, Sean is imparting his knowledge to the next generation.

Sean is a seven-time Queensland music award winner, a two-time APRA Music Award winner, and a recipient of the Brisbane City Council Lord Mayors Young and Emerging Artist Fellowship, but this is the first time his work has been recognised by the national industry association for music.

Being recognised by ARIA

Sean’s fellow group members Kristin and Rafael are successful musicians in their own right, having previously both received the Winston Churchill Memorial Fellowship. In addition, Kristin has also won the Montreux Jazz Festival’s International Vocal Competition, which is commonly regarded as the world’s top singing competition.

"It was a total surprise receiving the ARIA nomination - I actually found out for the first time when it was announced by ARIA on Instagram."

“It’s a real pleasure to play with Kristin and Rafael; they’re extremely proficient in what they do. Haven is the second album that we’ve released together, following on from our 2016 debut album, Hope in my Pocket, which was awarded the APRA/AMC State Award for Excellence in Jazz.”

The mellow and beautiful sounds of Haven were a move away from their previous album, which was inspired by ANZAC letters.

“We really enjoyed the opportunity to delve into the state archives as part of our research for Hope in my Pocket and create a cinematic journey, but we felt Haven had to be more about the music this time.

“We just wanted to write captivating melodies and delve into the sonic world of the trio, but also add something more, so the album also features acclaimed vibraphonist Pascal Schumacher from Luxembourg, who is a very good friend of ours.”

Away from Kristin and Rafael, and Sean is also a member of three-piece Jazz group, Trichotomy, which features John Parker and Sam Vincent. Prior to COVID-19 the group toured all over the world.

“I’ve been playing with those guys for 20 years. We’ve done lots of crazy things like play with a magician on stage when we were touring in China, and fly into small towns in northern Norway; it’s all been a lot of fun.”

Inspiring the next generation of creatives

At SAE, Sean is in charge of developing the new creative industries course for undergraduates, bringing together each of SAE’s course disciplines.

“We are embedding an entrepreneurial business mindset to the course, which is such an important part of the Creative Industries skillset.

“Having an entrepreneurial understanding of business and industry will help create momentum in your career. For example, how you go about getting your work to audiences around the world and collaborating with a wide range of artists – these are all crucial skills to thrive in the creative industries.”

Having worked in music for over 21 years and won multiple awards, Sean believes it’s vital as an educator that he continues to evolve and stay relevant for his students.

“I feel like students value my credibility in the industry, and I think that being continually industry relevant and transmitting that knowledge is important too.

“Students want to know that the information you’re giving them is current, and whoever is teaching them is someone that they can connect with and give them guidance.”

Looking to next year, Sean has some exciting projects on the horizon. “I’ve got multiple albums I’m working on, I’m collaborating with musicians internationally, and working on a remote production with colleagues in New Zealand and the UK. And I’m looking at some national tours for 2022, once borders open up a bit more. Music, like life, can take new directions, and that’s exciting!”

"Students want to know that the information you’re giving them is current, and whoever is teaching them is someone that they can connect with and give them guidance."

“Students want to know that the information you’re giving them is current, and whoever is teaching them is someone that they can connect with and give them guidance.”

“I feel like students value my credibility in the industry, and I think that being continually industry relevant and transmitting that knowledge is important too.”

Looking to next year, Sean has some exciting projects on the horizon. “I’ve got multiple albums I’m working on, I’m collaborating with musicians internationally, and working on a remote production with colleagues in New Zealand and the UK. And I’m looking at some national tours for 2022, once borders open up a bit more. Music, like life, can take new directions, and that’s exciting!”

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