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As a teenager he took lessons in electric guitar. At Wayne State University, Hickey's composition teachers included James Hartway and James Lentini. He has been commissioned by a number of musicians and organizations including for Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the St. Petersburg Symphony, Michala Petri, Avi Avital, the Fine Arts Quartet, and the Whatcom Symphony Orchestra.
His first commercial recording, Left at the Fork in the Road, was released in November 2005 on Naxos American Classics. Featuring a selection of his chamber and orchestral works, the album broke the Billboard Top 100 Classical Chart and was praised as "substantive and savvy" by the magazine Gramophone.
In May 2013, an album of Hickey's clarinet and cello concertos was released on Delos. The album features cellist Dmitry Kouzov and clarinetist Alexander Fiterstein, along with the St. Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra conducted by Vladimir Lande. The record was subsequently reviewed by NewMusicBox, which called the clarinet concerto "a formidable work".
Hickey's album Cursive was released in May 2014 on Delos, and is a retrospective of much of the composer's work for piano and chamber music combinations. Performing on the album are pianist Philip Edward Fisher, violinist Julia Sakharova, flutist Brandon Patrick George, violist Anne Lanzilotti, and harpist Meredith Clark. A further recording, by Greek guitarist Smaro Gregoriadou, was released on Delos in 2016, and features the second recording of his "Tango Grotesco", for solo guitar.
2017 saw the release of A Pacifying Weapon, a concerto for recorder and orchestra commissioned by recorder virtuoso Michala Petri, and premiered by the Royal Danish Conservatory Orchestra led by Jean Thorel. The premiere and recording took place in September 2016 in Copenhagen, released in 2017 on Our Recordings.
Hickey is also a published poet and writer of music reviews and travelogues. He is an ASCAP member and is published by Cantabile Press. In addition, he is the vice-president, sales and business development, for Naxos of America, and speaks regularly throughout the world on new media and musician entrepreneurship.
- "About", accessed April 4, 2016
- "Press", accessed April 4, 2016
- "American Classics – Hickey: Left at the Fork In The Road", accessed April 4, 2016
- "Sean Hickey – Concertos", accessed April 4, 2016
- Oteri, Frank J., "Sounds Heard: Sean Hickey – Concertos", accessed April 4, 2016
- "Sean Hickey Cursive", accessed April 4, 2016
- Hickey, Sean (1995). Banyan Tree. Cantabile Press.
- Contact Information, Naxos of America