~ The Universe of Bagpipes ~
A Web Site Written, Owned & Operated by Oliver Seeler

"Bagpipes of the World" CD

For information click on cover

~ The Music of Sean Folsom ~

Performance Formats & Contact Information
School Programs
Album, Film & Other Performance Credits
Present Activities & Schedule
Reed-making, Restoration, Consulting, Etc.)

Sean Folsom's incredible collection of bagpipes is presented in detail elsewhere on this site, as well as on the CD album Bagpipes of the World. One might think that researching ,collecting, restoring, maintaining and playing a world-class collection like this would be more than enough for anyone, but it's really only the tip of the iceberg. Sean's performance repertoire covers the entire spectrum of instruments - wind, string and percussion, with examples from the earliest to the most modern and from cultures exotic and familiar.

Below is a gallery of photographs of Sean and some of his instruments and costumes. Click on the images for larger views with captions, including identifications of the instruments.

~ Sean's Background ~

Sean Folsom was born in Berkeley, California in 1949 and grew up in the Monterey Bay area where he studied music with Francesco Lucido at the Academy of Music. At the age of eighteen Sean began his career as a professional musician; since then he's become considerably more than what that term usually means - a fine musician and entertainer of course, but also a music historian, a restorer and replicator of ancient instruments, a reed-maker and perhaps most importantly an enthusiastic and skilled educator who has given back lost traditions to large numbers of people.

Early in his career, while honing his skills on modern instruments - clarinet, oboe, sax, trombone, guitar and even accordion - and performing rock and jazz with a number of area groups, Sean became fascinated with traditional ethnic music and its associated instruments. In those days there was little to be learned about such things in academic settings, so Sean struck out on his own to become one of the pioneers in the still-ongoing and vigorous revival of ethnic music and its instruments. His research carried him to the British Isles and Europe, where he has since returned a number of times, both to learn and to perform.

The instrument that in particular captured Sean's attention was the bagpipe. Like most people, he was unaware of the vast range of instruments that fall under that name, so like most aspiring pipers he began to play the familiar Scottish Great Highland bagpipe. Soon, however, his broad research into ethnic music began to unveil other bagpipes - shriveled instruments hanging in shambles on museum walls and old photographs of strangely convoluted and sometimes huge pipes, often played by old men whose lives could not have overlapped the invention of photography by many years. Slightly less obscure, as it turned out, was the bagpipe of Sean's ancestral home, Ireland - the highly sophisticated Uilleann pipe. Sean was able to acquire one of these marvelous instruments and so, thirty years or so ago, began the core of his collection and his career as a piper.

Today, Sean's collection stands at thirty different bagpipes - and these are not wall-hangers, but are actively played and maintained. Anyone who has ever lived with a bagpipe (this writer owns four) knows what a monumental feat this is but, incredibly, bagpipes are far from the only instruments owned and played professionally by Sean. In his quest to bring coherent meaning and continuity to his performances of the musical forms of different cultures and periods, Sean has acquired and mastered an astonishing array of wind, string and percussion instruments, from the most "primitive" prehistoric versions to the most modern with many fascinating offshoots between. With this array he can bring to life the development and history not only of a particular type of instrument and music, but also the culture behind it - and to that effect he has assembled a large collection of matching costumes that he integrates into his appearances.

Sean's quest to expand and refine his repertoire is ceaseless. For example he has just added two exotic instruments to his North American collection - a marvelous glass harmonica (invented by Benjamin Franklin and written for by Mozart) and a spooky Theramin, the ancestor of the electronic synthesizer. Who knows what's next? Maybe a nice steam calliope - Sean mentioned recently that a good one, on a still day, can be heard for thirty miles...

~ Special Notice ~

Contact Information for Sean Folsom

Please note that Sean Folsom is a guest here on the Universe of Bagpipes web site (see"About This Site" if you're confused). Email and other communications for him directed to this site will eventually reach him, but he's no longer living right up the road from us here in Northern California - he's splitting his time between two places: the central California coast and central Illinois. However, he is now (finally) on-line, at least when he's not on the road performing. ~ O.S.

His email address is:


His snail-mail addresses are:

In California:

Sean Folsom
89 Quien Sabe
Carmel Valley, CA
93924 USA

Telephone: (831) 659-2548

In Illinois:

Sean Folsom
821 Kinlou Rd.
Kinmundy, IL
62854 USA

Telephone: (618) 547-3769

Again, that's contact information for Sean Folsom: To contact this site or its owner Oliver Seeler, use the links at the bottom of most pages.

The Universe of Bagpipes Main Page
Front Page:
Oliver Seeler's Universe of Bagpipes
our unique CD ~ Sean Folsom and 30 different bagpipes
About The CD Album:
Bagpipes of the World
a link to our email, bagpipes@hotpipes.com
Email Link:
Oliver Seeler's Universe of Bagpipes