James Stevens studied with the late great Benjamin Frankel at the Guildhall School of Music in London, with Darius Milhaud at the Conservatoire Nationale de Musique, in Paris, and privately at her special request, with Nadi Boulanger.
At the Guildhall he won the Wainwright Prize as "Composer of the Year" and the Royal Philharmonic Prize for his first symphony. Subesequently, the Lili Boulanger Memorial Award "for composers of exceptional talent and integrity", the Menndelsohn Scholarship, the Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai International Award in Tokyo, and was nominated for a BAFTA award with his Chelworth music (BBC TV series). He was also the only British composer to be chosen for the fiftieth anniversarry of the International Society of Contemporary Music in the same year as he had a number one in the charts (Exploding Galaxy).
Mr Stevens is Head of Music of the Society.
_________________________ Catalogue of his works (part)
ORCHESTRAL AND ENSEMBLE WORKS.
SYMPHONIES ONE and TWO. Durations 25/27 minutes. lst perf. BBC 3.
SYMPHONY NO. 'THREE "for strings alone'. Duration 25 minutes. Ist. perf. Northern Symphony Orchestra.
INFANTIES MISERAIE (Symphony No.4 'In Memmoriam Lili Boulanger)) orchestra and commentator. Duration 27 minutes.
CONCERTO CAPRICIOSO for harp and orchestra. Duration 20 minutes.
CONCITATO for piano and orchestra. Duration 12 minutes.
CONCERTO SCENES DE SEINE. for guitar and orchestra. Duration 22 minutes.
LION AND UNICORN and IN A NUTSHELL, overtures for orchestra. Each about eight minutes.
SERENADE for small orchestra. lst. perf. RTF (Paris).
NATSU NO HIKARI NI (Muika to kokonoka no hachigatsu ... yakeato kara) for orchestra. Duration 27 minutes. Translation IN THE BLINDING FLASH OF LlGHT THAT SUMMER (the sixth and ninth of August ... from the ashes).
CELEBRATION FOR THE DEAD - a buddhist requiem. Orchestra, voices and soprano. Duration 37 minutes. Winner BDK international Award, Tokyo, Tokyo Symphony Orchestra. European premier Nederlands Radio Sinfonie Orkester etc.
THE RELUCTANT MASQUERADE (Seppuku and Lullaby, The Buddha Weeps, Satako's Song) for orchestra and soloist. Duration 55 minutes.
GOAL for wind band. Commissioned Brecksville Bees Marching Band, Ohio. Duration ten minutes. Ist perf Wembley England v. Argentina match 1980.
CELEBRATION for amateur orchestra and chorus. Duration 20 minutes. Commissioned Sir Walter St. John School.
THE FATHER for amateur orchestra and baritone. 20 minutes.
ROYAL GREENWICH MARCH for school brass band.10 minutes. Comm. Woolwich Poly.
SMALL GROUPS AND CHAMBER WORKS.
ETYMON for five players and three singers. The only British work to be selected by the international jury for the 50th. anniversary of the ISCM. Duration 22 minutes.
GIRI-IN SCENA for semi-jazz ensemble. Commission. Matrix. 20 Minutes.
JIGSAW FOR PIPES - for variations of two recorder quartettes slid two soloists. 19 minutes.
W.S LOVES W.H. Octet and tenor. 25 minutes.
LEWIS LOVES ALICE. voice and jazz combo (arranged for piano). Ist. public perf. Cincinnati with composer as vocalist.
"D" - ZAKOJI NI SASAGERU. Shakuhachi and thirteen strings. (in memory of Zakoji Hiroaki - gifted Japanese composer who died just after 29th. birthday). 18 minutes.
CONCERTANTE A TRE FOR JOZEPH WALKER. Piano trio premiered in Cincinnati. In memory of young American buddhist who died of AIDS just 23 years of age. 19 minutes.
CHELWORTH For Brass nonet. Short arrangement of title music from the BBC TV series. 5 Minutes.
KIRI TO TAIYO - flute and piano. Comm Sumitomo Metal Corp. Tokyo.
FOUR MOVEMENTS AND A CODA. Viola and piano. BBC 3 17 minutes..
EMBRIONICS. Un-acc. violin. lst perf. Geoffrey Grey
ASONICS. Piano Ist perf. Jonathan Cohen, Wigmore Hall. 20 minutes.
GUITAR. Guitar solo. 17 minutes. Recorded on EMI-Electrola by Andreas Herzau.
WALTZES FOR FRIENDS - piano. Thirteen to date.
Many short pieces for piano, violin, cello, etc. mostly written for special occasions - weddings etc.
Many songs of all genres - serious concert chansons, jazz. pop, etc. Mostly to own lyrics.
ETHERIA, AMO ERGO SUM (Arts Council Commission),
ALL'S RIGHT WITH THE WORLD.
FILMS & TV.
THE INSOMNIAC (Feature)
INTRUSION (Short feature - American)
THEY CAME FROM BEYOND SPACE (Feature)
SPARROWS CAN'T SING (Feature)
THE WEAPON (Feature)
THE BABY AND THE BATTLESHIP (Feature)
COCKLESHELL HEROES (Feature in collaboration with John Addison)
THE FOURTH SQUARE (Featurette)
THE OTHER MAN (Featurette)
THE SECRET PONY (Children's feature)
THE RIVAL WORLD (Bert Haanstra's only English film)
EAST-WEST ISLAND (Full-length documentary)
RING AROUND THE EARTH (Ditto)
THE OILMEN (Ditto)
FLIGHT DECK Ditto))
THE NEW VIKINGS (Ditto)
WEDNESFIELD STORY (Ditto)
ARABIA FELIX (Ditto)
PORTRAIT OF QUEENIE (True-life musical - as writer and composer)
THE FAMILY RE-UNION (T.S.Eliot),
WORLD OF TONIGHT (Magazine series),
HORIZON (weekly arts and science series),
CHELWORTH (eight part serial etc).
and as writer/presenter; STOLEN PROPERTY,
UNCLE SILAS (drama),
THE ALCOHOLICS (feature),
ARMCHAIR THEATRE (series),
BOND QC (series),
OUR STREET (series),
AFTER MIDNIGHT (feature),
AMERICA ABROAD (feature),
THE LITTLE ROUND HOUSE and sequel MR. PAPINGAY'S SHIP (two children's musical sit-coms). etc.
and as writer, THE CURE (Half-hour Theatre)
ECHO AND NARCISSUS, THE SALVATION OF FAUST (both "plays on words and music"),
VOICES IN THE AIR, ("high-brow" revue),
Incidental music and lyrics for THE VISIT (producer Peter Brook) which opened the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre in New York and the Royalty theatre in London.
GHOST STORY, one-act opera originally a BBC commission.
MAM'ZELLE NITOUCIIE - musical, several productions including six months at Pitlochry Festival and two productions at Worthing.
THE PIED PIPER, two productions one at Joan Littlewood's Theatre Royal, Stratford East.
ORPHIEUS IN SPACE, mini rock opera with Hat Yamanouchi in Rome.
(Rambert Ballet Workshop, etc),
THE PHANTOM LOVER (Theatre Royal, Stratford Fast). etc.
CHINCHIROREN YUGEIDAN, Japanese theatre group.
PARADISE IS IN YOUR MIND, "highbrow' music-hall.
I'VE GOT YOU TAPED - one-man verse play with tape recorder.
FRONT WINDOW, one-man verse play, Edinburgh Festival together with above. Both performed at ICA and then at the Edinburgh Festival.
LEWIS LOVES ALICE, Cincinnati.
Several pop singles including EXPLODING GALAXY, (Record Mirror "Disc of the Week') based (on Beethoven's 7th.)
The album QUEEN HIGH (Stan Tracey's commercial recording debut), GUITAR (Andreas Herzau) EMI-Electrola. Also several discs of mood-music.
Music for THE VISIT (producer Peter Brook) opened the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre in New York.
SPARROWS CAN'T SING had a memorable distribution with printed hand-out giving glossary of cockney words.
Most films and TV have had screenings in America, notable THE RIVAL WORLD. ETHERIA introduced by Gillian Weir in Berea. "James Stevens Day" at Cincinnati University, 1995, - master-class in the morning, seminar of taped works and lecture in the afternoon, concert of chamber works in the evening including the first public performance of LEWIS LOVES ALICE with the composer as vocalist. Also featured with a gala performance of CONCERTANTE A TRE FOR JOZEPH WALKER by the Cleveland Orchestra Piano Trio in the Kent-Blossom Music Festival 1998.
Many years ago won the Boston-based Lili Boulanger Memorial Award "for composers of exceptional talent and integrity'.
Also reviews and features for Dancemagazine and Ballet News (both of New York), etc.
LECTURES AND APPOINTMENTS.
Has lectured extensively to music clubs and film societies. Spent three years with Richmond Adult College conducting "Music Workshop" which studied the inherent nature of musical material, and hence musical appreciation, through free improvisation. Also analytical classes.
Appointed Royal College of Art to draw up a research project on Emotion and Meaning in Music. Was the first music director for Thames Television. Has addressed film audiences at the Edinburgh Festival and BAFTA on his own film music.
Critical writings have appeared in Tempo, Opera, Music and Musicians, Musical Times, Classical Music, 'The Independent, Dance Magazine (New York), Toronto Times, Cleveland Plain Dealer, New Zealand herald, etc.
The Wainwright 'Scholarship (as "Composer of the Year' whilst still at the Guildhall School of Music),
'The Royal Philharmonic Prize (for Symphony no.1),
The Mendelssohn Scholarship, the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths Award.
The Lili Boulanger Memorial Award ("for composers of exceptional talent and integrity").
The BDK International Award (Tokyo),
Nominated for a BAFTA Award (Chelworth serial), etc.
in most major music publications including Music and Recording yearbook (Kemps), Melody Maker yearbook, Who's Who in Music (Penguin), The British Music Yearbook (A. & C. Black), International Who's Who in Music, Riemann's Musiklexicon, Churchill Society Music Department, etc.
JAMES STEVENS has written . . .
"I do not believe that the listener/ viewer/reader should be inhibited by the aesthetics of one style from appreciating another; that to experience, emotionally and intellectually, an art form to the full, the artist and his audience must attempt to acquire the most catholic of tastes and free themselves, so far as subjective considerations allow from preconditioned sympathies."
Therefore, James Steven's work as a composer and his tastes in music cover an exceptionally wide spectrum, whilst his enthusiasm for other creative forms has encouraged him to acquire a wide general knowledge and appreciation of all art forms. He is specially interested in the intangible aspects of musical communication. The inherent, or otherwise, expressive qualities of music, and the psychology of audience response, is a subject of research on which he in engaged.
JAMES STEVENS has written . . .
"In our contemporary, multi-media world, it seems important to take music out of the clouds of pure, and frequently puerile, creativity, and bring it down to earth in film and recording studios, theatre and TV, where it fulfils so vital a function, not to detract from the sphere of absolute music, but to add to it.
SYMPHONY NUMBER ONE
Despite the extreme, almost wayward, complexity of the score, the argument to utterly lucid YORKSHIRE POST
James Stevens' score was brilliantly evocative.. DAILY MAIL
GHOST STORY ... irreverently barbed satire of this score, yet there is no doubt of its inherent lyricism. SEMIBREVE
Witty and elegant ... dialectics of the script admirably followed through in the music... warmly received. FINANCIAL TIMES
EXPLODING GALAXY Must draw attention to this Record of the Week .... RECORD MIRROR
....somebody has taken a lot of trouble with this. MELODY MAKER.
ASONICS ...a virtuoso piece in three continuous sections; it made an effective and vital concert number. . . . THE TIMES
. . . .a dramatic piece much to the liking of the audience. DAILY TELEGRAPH
... I loved... the use of menacing pictures and sound, including some splendidly scaring Gothic organ background music by James Stevens TELEVISION TODAY
Fierce, full-blooded organ music by James Stevens contributed to the macabre atmospher DAILY TELEGRAPH.
SUITE OF NINE . . . the urgent latin rhythms of the third piece, the Bartokian brutality RICHMOND TIMES
SPARROWS CAN'T SING. . . . the music of "Sparrows Can't Sing" from the pen of as versatile composer an James Stevens, will have many film-goers by the ears. KENSINGTON POST
belts out a regal blues by James Stevens. NEW STATESMAN
ETHERIA... for all its modernity this score is in a direct musical tradition from the classics. It is real music THE ORGANIST
.... taut construction . ... vivid and alive .... fierceness and GLOUCESTER ECHO
MAM'ZELLE NITOUCHE . . .bloomin marvellous. GUARDIAN JOURNAL
Outrageous farce is a "must" WEST SUSSEX GAZETTE
If London does not grab it when the Connaught in finished with it then
the British Theatre is indeed in a sorry state. WORTHING HERALD
THE FAMILY REUNION ... an extraordinarily unsettling score (by James Stevens). DAILY MAIL.
THE PIED PIPER . . .an example of the new English school , . . eclectically aware of Britten as well as Bart . . . THE TIMES
. . . button bright and dancing with catchy tunes . . . THE EVENING NEWS
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