“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, Fitzwilliam 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. Many of Ian’s works are available to view online on nkoda. Listen on SoundCloud.
“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)
The Clarinet Concerto, commissioned by Kensington Chamber Orchestra with funding from the Nicholas Berwin Charitable Trust and Damian Edwards, is available to orchestras worldwide for free – that’s no hire fee at all – until September 2020. It’s scored for 2222.2200.T.str, and lasts about 25 minutes. If you’re interested please get in touch via the contact form.
A Song for the Season of Creation, commissioned by the Environment Working Group of the Church of England for St Bride’s Choir and setting words by Malcolm Guite, is in lots of versions, designed to be performed together: Unaccompanied Mixed Choir (SS, AA, TT, BB), Upper Voice Choir (S, S, A) + keyboard, Male Voice Choir (T, Bar, B) + keyboard, Mixed Voice Choir (S, A, Men) + keyboard, Unison Voices + keyboard, Unison Voices + simplified keyboard and chords, Lead Sheet. Sheet music and rehearsal files are available to download for free as well as the recording of the SATB version by St Bride’s Choir.
Commissions in progress include a children’s ballet for Northern Ballet, an overture for brass ban, a piece for solo piano and a piece for solo double bass.
Performances coming up:
• Clarinet Concerto: Mandy Burvill and Liverpool Mozart Orchestra conducted by Robin Wallington, Saturday 8 February 2020, 7.30pm, Capstone Theatre, 17 Shaw St, Liverpool L6 1HP
• Bassoon Sonata: Rebekah Abramski and Ron Abramski, Thursday 20 February 2020, 2pm, United Reformed Church, Ormskirk St, St Helens WA10 1BQ
• Springhead Echoes for string quartet: Ensemble of St Lukes, Wednesday 18 March 2020, 1pm, Victoria Gallery & Museum, University of Liverpool, Ashton Street, Liverpool L69 3DR
• A Wailing on the Wind: Angela Mounsey and Liverpool String Quartet, Monday 23 March 2020, 8pm, Liverpool Philharmonic Hall Music Room
• Gàir na mara for soprano, flute, clarinet and violin, performed by students of Chetham’s School of Music, Friday 1 November 2019, 6pm, Carole Nash Recital Room, Royal Northern College of Music, 124 Oxford Rd, Manchester M13 9RD. Part of New Music Manchester festival.
• Sounds and Sweet Airs: Choirs and Orchestra of Sherborne School for Girls, conducted by John Jenkins, Wednesday 26 June 2019, Sherborne School for Girls, Bradford Rd, Sherborne, Dorset DT9 3QN
• A Song for the Season of Creation: St Bride’s Choir, Sunday 26 May 2019, 5.30pm, St Bride’s Church, Fleet Street, London EC4Y 8AU
• Clarinet Concerto: 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
• Springhead Echoes and Clarinet Quintet : Mandy Burvill and Fitzwilliam String Quartet, 24 November 2018, All Hallows Church, Savernake Rd, London
• 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; he mentored Joshua Quinlan (2017-18) and Armand Rabot (2018-19), in 2019-20 he mentors Jay Palombella. In 2019 he began as a Composition Tutor at Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester.
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.