Ellen McSweeney is a musician, writer, coach, and social worker in training. Through creative expression, contemplative practice, and social engagement, she works to promote healing within herself, her clients, and her communities.
As a writer, Ellen has frequently addressed challenging topics—including musicians’ mental health, sexism in contemporary music, and the influence of trauma on professional performers—in order to create transparency and change. Her writing has appeared in NewMusicBox, VAN Magazine, The Log Journal, and Cacophony. In 2014, she was named one of Musical America’s 30 Professionals of the Year (Profiles in Courage) for her groundbreaking reporting work at NewMusicBox.
As a violinist, vocalist, and composer, Ellen has performed and taught throughout the United States and abroad. As a founding member of the string trio Chicago Q Ensemble from 2010-2016, Ellen performed the work of countless living composers, gave the inaugural recital of the American Music Project in 2014, and was named on Chicago Classical Review’s Best Classical Music of 2015 list. As a member of the experimental duo Handful of Smoke, Ellen has performed her original work at the Society for Minimalist Music, New Music Gathering, Omaha Under the Radar, and FLAK performance series, among others. With trumpet player, composer, and bandleader Douglas Detrick, Ellen co-composed the Moby Dick-inspired show Boldly Launched Upon the Deep and toured the work across Oregon.
A devoted student of meditation and yoga, Ellen regularly sits silent retreats at the Insight Meditation Society and holds a 200-hour yoga teacher training certification from Flow Yoga Center in Washington, D.C. She has taught mind-body practices at New Music Gathering, the Society for Minimalist Music, and at music camps for D.C. public school students.
Ellen holds degrees in music from Vanderbilt University and DePaul University, and is currently a first-year student in Catholic University's Master of Social Work program.