Aaron Sheehan Recognized for Boston Early Music Festival's Recording of 17th-Century Opera

February 11, 2015
Aaron Sheehan performing La Descente d’Orphée aux Enfers

“Anyone who wants to sing: sing. Do it. Do it forever.”

These were Aaron Sheehan’s words of advice as he accepted the GRAMMY for Best Opera Recording this Sunday during the 57th GRAMMY Awards in Los Angeles. Sheehan is a music performance faculty member in voice at Wellesley, as well as a globally-renowned vocal performer. He accepted the GRAMMY alongside conductor Stephen Stubbs for the Boston Early Music Festival’s recording of operatic works by 17th-century composer Marc-Antoine Charpentier.

Charpentier’s La Descente D’Orphee Aux Enfers retells the tragic Greek myth of the bard Orpheus who loses his wife Eurydice to an early death, and who searches for his beloved in the underworld. Sheehan played the title character alongside the Boston Early Music Festival Chamber and Vocal ensembles in a production that brought a rarely performed work to life. (Learn more about the production in this behind-the-scenes video).

"Winning the Grammy Award for Best Opera was completely unexpected," said Sheehan. "The category was full of well seasoned, former winners, so we definitely were the underdogs. The win is a wonderful and much deserved validation for the Boston Early Music Festival and for my own career path. I come away from this even more energized to continue to make music and art."

Sheehan works with Wellesley students studying in the College’s music performance program. Through the program, students can take for-credit and non-credit courses in a number of instruments ranging from voice to trombone and hand percussion. Performance is a key component of the music curriculum, and the Music Department hosts events each semester to showcase emerging talent, such as the Music Department Honors Concert scheduled for February 22. Many music students also participate in one or more of Wellesley’s thriving performance groups, such as Chamber Music Society, early music collective Collegium Musicum,  or drum-and-dance ensemble Yanvalou.  

As a performer, Sheehan works in a wide range of styles and genres of music, including Renaissance polyphony and medieval music. He has won particular acclaim for his Baroque interpretations, and his voice has been described as the Boston Globe as “superb: his tone classy, clear, and refined, encompassing fluid lyricism and ringing force” while the Washington Post has praised his “polished, lovely tone.” Two of his many recordings have previously been nominated for a GRAMMY award. He also teaches at Boston and Towson Universities.

“Aaron Sheehan is one of the leading Early Music singers in the world today,” said Marion Dry, director of Wellesley’s music performance program. “He is also an exemplary voice teacher whose students grow vocally and musically through working with him.  He carries all of this excellence and expertise with humility and grace, making him an superb colleague and wonderful teacher. We are thrilled he has received this well-deserved honor!”

Sheehan added, "I am lucky that I have had the support of wonderful colleagues and staff here at Wellesley for the past 10 years. It's hard to believe, but I think I am in my 10th year of teaching here. Teaching at Wellesley helps keep my own vocal technique in check, as well as the technique of my students. I always hope that I can impart the joy and happiness that music brings to me on to my students."