“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.
“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:
• 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 2019 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
• Everything Holds Together (premiere): St Bride’s Choir, Sunday 26 May 2019, St Bride’s Church, Fleet Street, London EC4Y 8AU
• Clarinet Quintet: Mandy Burvill and Liverpool String Quartet, Monday 3 June 2019, Music Room, Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, Hope Street, Liverpool L1 9BP
• Sounds and Sweet Airs (premiere): 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
• Clarinet Concerto: Mandy Burvill and New Bristol Sinfonia conducted by Matthew Scott Rogers, Saturday 29 June 2019, 7.30pm, Victoria Rooms, Queens Rd, Bristol BS8 1SA
• Three Cornish Songs: Tenors and Basses of Liverpool Philharmonic Youth Choir with Robert Chesters (piano), conducted by the composer, Sunday 6 July 2019, Blackburn Cathedral, Blackburn BB1 5AA
• Clarinet Concerto: Jacob Perry and Orchestra of St Mary’s conducted by Nigel Wicken, Saturday 11 January 2020, St Mary’s, Penzance TR18 4AQ
• Clarinet Concerto: Mandy Burvill and Liverpool Mozart Orchestra, Saturday 8 February 2020, Venue and conductor to be confirmed
• 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; 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.