Leading American orchestras, instrumentalists, and wind ensembles around the world have performed the “straightforward, unabashedly beautiful sounds,” (Boston Herald) of Chicago based composer James M. Stephenson, both to critical acclaim and the delight of audiences. 

Most recently, Charles Vernon, Chicago Symphony bass trombonist, has asked Stephenson to write a new concerto for their 2018/2019 season under Riccardo Muti.  A second bass trombone concerto will receive its orchestral premiere with the St. Louis Symphony (Robertson) in 2017. Other upcoming premieres include the the Minnesota Orchestra (Vänskä), the Montreal Symphony (Azoulay), and the US “President’s Own” Marine Band (Lt. Col. Fettig). His recent Violin concerto #1 will receive its Chattanooga Symphony and Cabrillo Music Festival debuts during the 2016-17 season.

Compose Yourself!, Stephenson’s landmark young-audience work has now been performed over 300 times since its creation in 2002, engaging children in New Zealand and Canada and across the U.S. His "highly imaginative" sequel to Stravinsky's "Soldier's Tale" ("The Devil's Tale") has received critical praise and public success, with dozens of performances and international premieres. Of particular note is his "there are no words", a remembrance of the Charleston tragic shooting, which now is to be performed at Lincoln Center, and worldwide in future months.

Stephenson’s catalog now boasts concertos and sonatas for nearly every instrument, earning him the moniker “The Concerto King” from Chicago Symphony clarinetist John Yeh.  With such prolific output, Stephenson’s music is well represented on over 30 CD recordings.

James Stephenson is also a highly sought-after arranger, educator, and conductor, rounding out his consistently active schedule. As a conductor, he has led the orchestras in Bozeman, Charleston, Chattanooga, Modesto, Naples, Southwest Florida, Wyoming, in addition to a recent appearance in Spain. His arrangements have been performed/recorded/broadcast by virtually every major orchestra in the country, including the Boston Pops, Cincinnati Pops, New York Pops and more.  With the Lake Forest Symphony, he has served for six years as Composer-in-Residence.

Jim originally hails from the Chicago area, as does his wife Sally.  In 2007 the couple, along with their four children, returned to the region after a 17 year performance career with the Naples Philharmonic to pursue the life they now share.

photo credit Kate Stephenson