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Seizing Opportunities
Alumnus Sean Duggan creates a lifestyle from lessons learned at FIS
Sean Duggan ’12 plays the FIS Auditorium
In late September, FIS hosted a group of young musicians for a concert bene ting the Kalahari Experience. Opening act for the evening were Grade 6-8 Principal Dan Cowan
(guitar and vocals) and his daughter Medina (ukulele and vocals), currently a senior at FIS. They took part in the Kalahari Experience this summer and performed three songs they had shared with the children there.
The concert included acts by solo performers James Walker from London, Matt Phillips from North Carolina, and the band Loud Mountains – made up of brothers Sean and Kevin Duggan, originally from Connecticut; Sean attended FIS from Grade 8 onwards, graduating in 2012.
While they all play “Americana Music” – a genre that incorporates a number of American music styles ranging from country, rock, folk and bluegrass – they have developed very individual and unique voices. Their songs tell poignant stories about unrequited or lost love, strong mother  gures and everyday life. It was a wonderful evening with each performer taking turns, but also supporting their friends from time to time. They established
24 FIS World October 2017
a great rapport with their audience, thus creating a unique experience.
When James was planning their European tour, he asked Sean if he knew a location in Frankfurt where they could perform. Despite not having been back at FIS since graduation, Sean decided to write to Assistant Principal Pete Sinclair asking whether they could play at FIS. Sean was touched when a mere 12 hours later Mr. Sinclair had responded with an invitation and a date.
Taking the stage that evening, Sean told the audience he had come “full circle.” When he  rst arrived at FIS, he had been taking piano and guitar lessons at home in Connecticut, but had never performed publicly before. The FIS auditorium was his  rst stage and he was extremely nervous when it was his turn to perform at the piano. Mr. Sinclair remembers the auditorium erupting with applause: “It was like Elton John sitting at the piano,” he said.
With his newfound con dence, Sean played every charity concert and talent show at FIS in the coming years and performed his song “Change in Me” at his graduation in 2012. He explored his other passion, design, by taking various classes at FIS, too. At FIS, Sean recalls, students are given a wide range of opportunities to  nd their passion and the main thing he learned is to seize every opportunity.
Following graduation, he studied design at Buckinghamshire University in England. One of his classes focused on garden design, which sparked an interest that Sean decided to pursue. He called all of the garden design companies in the area asking for a job and in essence, created his own win-win opportunity: he is currently working as a garden designer, which allows him to pursue a professional passion, while at the same time giving him the ability to take o  time to tour and play festivals to promote his music.
There is one opportunity that the Duggan brothers passed up: they had originally formed a band called “Empty White Circles,” which had grabbed the attention of the music industry. They were told that with a few changes, they would be a more “marketable” band and therefore potentially a more  nancially successful one. They declined. As Sean’s brother Kevin said on stage: ”If you’re not doing things you love, it’s not worth it. You have to stay true to yourself.”
To hear Loud Mountains, check out Spotify, iTunes, or Youtube – and if you can, see them live! For links to their music and tour dates, visit
Julia Vanderpool
FIS Alumni Relations

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