A reluctant but uncompromising artist,
Frank Stemper’s critically acclaimed music has been heard
on the fringe of the world music scene for over 30 years. His scores for
orchestra, chamber ensembles, voices and computer have found their way
from his home in rural mid-America to much of the United States and well
over a dozen foreign countries. Performances of his music have recently been heard in Carnegie Hall (NYC), The Kennedy Center (Washington DC), Symphony Center (Chicago), and The Performing Arts Center (Milwaukee), as well as in Paris, Budapest, Shanghai, and San Francisco. His long list of awards and honors include the George Ladd Prix de Paris, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, and a
Pulitzer Prize nomination. In addition, Stemper’s reputation as an educator
has lead to multiple “Guest Composer” residencies working with
young composers in Mexico, France, Austria, Romania,
Spain, and the Netherlands.
His is not easy music to peg: Reviewers have criticized it for being
“…overly complex…” but also “…curiously accessible.” It has also been described as “…introspective, deeply personal music, with a sharp emotional trigger...” or music with “…deftly grinding gears, and twisting voicings, splintering colors, all fully inhabiting and advancing each dramatic moment.” Composer Lukas Foss called his music “inspiring.” Lee Hyla noted in Stemper’s song cycle, A Love Imagined
“…the dramatic shape is very effective, and, as ever, the harmonic
and textural worlds are beautiful.” Don Freund described the same piece
“…a masterpiece, a tremendously ambitious, deep, moving
all-embracing experience. Definitely the work of an
important artist at the peak of his powers and inspiration.”
Stemper’s music, published exclusively through Stonehouse Press and
recorded by several Record Producers, doesn’t seem to fit into any established
clique of musical expression; it is neither traditional nor experimental; it isn’t conservative or radically esoteric; and it certainly lacks gimmicky techniques and flashy “selling” jargon. Stemper’s music is his and his alone. His musical voice is simply modern, using the past, the present, and Stemper’s own sonic imagination to
express his thoughts in the clearest language available – music. Truly,
this composer’s music is so private that he often shies away from
public discussions of it.
He has most recently written works for the preeminent soprano, Lucy Shelton,
The Stony Brook Contemporary Chamber Players in New York City,
and a consortium commission work for concert band and computer
premiered at the Ussachevsky Computer Music Festival in Los Angeles.
He is currently writing a major piano work, which will be premiered in
2014 in China. His music has also been presented at notable
international music venues such as Teatro de Los Heroes (Mexico);
Antiel Roman (Romania); Pannonalma Budapest (Hungary);
Kulturhaus Dornbirn (Austria); Symphony Space, St. Ignatius of Antioch, Weill and Carnegie Halls (NYC); Symphony Center (Chicago); Cowell Theatre at
Fort Mason (San Francisco); Uihlein Hall (Milwaukee); and The
Kennedy Center (Washington DC); to name a few.
Over the years he has maintained a consistent presence on the new music scene,
often as a guest composer and/or performer at many international music festivals,
such as Incontri Europei Con La Musica – Bergamo and Festival Spaziomusica – Cagliari, Italy; The Happening: New Music – Calgary, Canada; International
De Musica Contemporanea – Alicante, Spain; Vancouver Contemporary Music Festival; Saptamina Internationala A Muzicii Noi, Zilele Muzicii Contemporane
and theGeorge Enescu International Festival of Contemporary Music –
Bucharest, Romania; the Bregenzer Festspiele – Austria; etc.
His music is also frequently heard – often broadcast live – on the
National Radio stations of Mexico, Hungary, Cyprus, Romania, Radio France,
and the BBC.
In addition to the above awards from the NEA and the Paris prize, his work has been supported by Meet the Composer, MTC – Global Connections, The American Music Center, The Rockefeller Fund for Music, The Ford Foundation, and the State Arts Councils of Illinois, California and New York, and 24 consecutive ASCAPlus Awards from the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers. Stemper has received nearly 40 commissions for new works from foundations, arts organizations, musicians, ensembles, and even foreign governments. Stemper’s setting of two Shakespeare Love Sonnetts for chorus and piano solo, By Night My Mind,
won the 2011 New York Viruoso Singers Competition. He has served as
Composer in Residence with many national and international ensembles
and festivals, and he has been in demand as an
inspiring teacher through his multiple invitations supported by the governments of
Mexico (5), Romania (3), Austria (3), The Netherlands (2), and Spain (1).
Frank Stemper lives in Carbondale Illinois, where he and his wife of 36 years raised five children. There he is has been Composer In Residence and
Professor of Music at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, where
he serves as Director of Graduate Studies. He has also founded
both the Center for Experimental Music and the Altgeld Chamber Players
(with whom he sometimes serves as pianist), and is Co-producer
of the annual Outside the Box new music festival.
–––––– Stonehouse Press
R E C O R D I N G S
Toot tooT (2002) on an Albany Records CD by David Gier, trombone
with David Greenhoe , trumpet and Shari Rhoads, piano.
(1999) on Centaur Records CD by PASTICHE
Dave Scott, trumpet, Jan Fillmore Scott, clarinet, Fred Sahlmann, piano, Dave Walton, percussion.
(2000) solo percussion & computer geneerated sounds performed by Kevin Lucas
on Reception Records' "Carpe Noctem" by the "Dead Musicans' Society.
(1985) for solo clarinet, performed by Eric Mandat on Advance Records' "The Extended Clarinet."
(1984) for clarinet, string trio and piano, performed by The Almont Ensemble, with the late Charlotte Zelkaon on Opus One Records, Inc.
This recording also includes(1980) for solo 'cello, performed by Tom Flaherty.
(1998) for viola and 'cello, recorded by CELLIOLA.
(12006 for clarinet and piano, recorded by The Altgeld Chamber Players.