“Composing is an amazing thing. When it’s flowing, when I’m engrossed, when I utterly lose track of time – those are the best times. And the intensity of creation is closely matched by the thrill when a new piece is brought to life by musicians. But there’s one further summit – the first performance itself, when the new piece speaks directly to the audience. It’s that process of unveiling, and the reactions of the audience members to what has been unveiled, that really makes it all worthwhile.”
Ian’s music has been performed by ensembles including the Choir of King’s College Cambridge, Brodsky Quartet, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Hallé and Royal Northern Sinfonia. In 2004 he was shortlisted for the British Composer Awards for Crosby Symphony Overture. He was among ten composers commissioned to write a piece for the 10th anniversary of Ensemble 10/10 in 2007. We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, for narrator and orchestra, was performed by the RLPO, with Michael Rosen narrating, at the 2013 BBC Proms, Sunday 1 September, and broadcast live on BBC Radio 3. Many of his works are available from Composers Edition, either as print copies or pdfs.
“Stephens’ musical language is hallmarked by strong thematic ideas and driven by the power of bold rhythmic motifs and sonorous combinations of instruments or voices.” (Andrew Stewart, BBC Proms programme, 1 September 2013)
Performances coming up:
• Springhead Echoes and Clarinet Quintet (premieres): Mandy Burvill and Fitzwilliam String Quartet, Saturday 24 November 2018, 4pm, All Hallows Church, Savernake Rd, London NW3 2JP
• star-strewn for clarinet, cello and double bass, Wednesday 5 December 2018, 1pm, White Lines, Victoria Gallery and Museum, Liverpool
• We’re Going On A Bear Hunt for narrator and orchestra, Saturday 15 December 2018 11am & 2.45pm, Albert’s Orchestra conducted by Timothy Redmond, narrated by Tom Redmond, My Christmas Orchestral Adventure, Royal Albert Hall, London
• We’re Going On A Bear Hunt for narrator and orchestra, Saturday 22 December 2018 2pm & 5pm, Sunday 23 December 2018 11am, 2pm & 5pm, Monday 24 December 2018 11am & 2pm, Royal Northern Sinfonia conducted by Alan Fearon, narrated by Eleanor Mooney, Sage Gateshead
• Cecilia Speaks: Elysian Singers conducted by Sam Laughton, Saturday 16 February 2019, 7.30pm, St James Sussex Gardens, London
• Oboe Quintet: Jonathan Small with a quartet from the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Wednesday 27 March 2019, 1pm, Victoria Gallery and Museum, Victoria Building, 150 Brownlow Hill, Liverpool L3 5RF
• We’re Going On A Bear Hunt for narrator and orchestra, Sunday 14 April 2018 2.30pm, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Gavin Sutherland, narrated by Alasdair Malloy, Liverpool Philharmonic Hall
• Clarinet Concerto (premiere): Mandy Burvill and Kensington Chamber Orchestra conducted by Tom Seligman, Saturday 11 May 2019, 7.30pm, St Peter’s Notting Hill, Kensington Park Rd, London W11 2PN
• Clarinet Quintet: Mandy Burvill and Liverpool String Quartet, Monday 3 June 2019, Music Room, Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, Hope Street, Liverpool L1 9BP
• Bassoon Sonata: Matthew Dodd and Sam Laughton, 4 August 2018, Pigotts Music Camp
• To the Atlantic: Liverpool Philharmonic Children’s Choir and Melody Makers, Orchestra of In Harmony Liverpool, conducted by Rod Skipp, 7 July 2018, Liverpool Philharmonic Hall
• Tunnel Vision: Brighouse and Rastrick Band conducted by David Thornton, 28 January 2018, Royal Northern College of Music Brass Band Festival, Manchester
• Three Cornish Songs (SATB and piano): Camerata Kernow conducted by Nigel Wicken, 10 December 2017, St Mary’s Penzance
He is a composer-mentor on the Rushworth Young Composer scheme, run by Liverpool Philharmonic; in 2017-18 he mentored Joshua Quinlan, and in 2018-19 he mentors Armand Rabot.
Three of his works are available on CD: A Wailing on the Wind for string quartet and storyteller, Timepieces: Three Auden Lyrics for choir and alto saxophone, and Ultramarine for brass quintet, which is on the CD Something Blue.