The music of Frank Stemper has been performed by orchestras, ensembles, and soloists in 23 countries and two-thirds of the United States — in Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center, Budapest’s Pannonhalma, Vienna’s Klaviersalon Englemier, Chicago’s Symphony Center, Bucharest’s Anteil Roman, San Francisco’s Cowell Theater, Milwaukee’s Performing Arts Center, etc., and has been heard on International Radio Networks throughout the world.
His activities as a composer has been supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Illinois Arts Council, the New York Council on the Arts, the California Arts Council, Meet the Composer and MTC—Global Connections, the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers, and the governments of Mexico, Romania, Spain, Austria, and The Netherlands. There have also been 39 commissions for new work from various artistic foundations and new music societies, in Western and Eastern Europe, and throughout the United States.
Among the many awards for his music are the 1981 George Ladd Prix de Paris, four artist fellowships from the Illinois Arts Council, 27 consecutive ASCAPlus awards, etc., as well as nominations for both the Grammy and Pulitzer Prizes. BLUE13, a recently released recording of Stemper’s complete music for piano, performed by the Korean pianist Junghwa Lee, received a Gold Medal and was voted No. 4 in Global Music’s “Top 10 Albums of 2015.”
Through his multiple artist and teaching residencies in Mexico, Romania, Spain, The Netherlands, and France, as well as more than 50 Guest Composer appearances at international festivals, his music continues to maintain a presence on the world new music scene. His mentors were composer Andrew Imbrie, theorist David Lewin, and pianist Robert Silverman, and from 1983 to 2014 he served as Composer In Residence at Southern Illinois University.
Stemper’s music is an eclectic blending of the serial composers and jazz performers from the middle 50 years of the 20th Century — his parent’s generation.
From the International Press
"...through his particular language he succeeds in finding a way of communicating with many levels of audiences without making any stylistic concessions to the modern of our epoch."
ACTUALITATEA MUZICALA (Romanian Cultural Publication)
(SEVEN) SEPERATE WAYS
— performed by The Archaeus Ensemble in Bucharest Romania
“Reminiscent of the angularity of Berg’s Lyric Suite, the intense music proved absorbing. Seamaster. Over this, Stemper’s obvious technical skill finally brings voice and orchestra together…with the engaging sonority of Lynch’s verse.”
Lawrence B. Johnson
The Milwaukee Journal 14 May 1983
— performed by The Milwaukee Chamber Orchestra in Vogel Hall
“Frank Stemper's muziek voor orkest, stem, en verschillende grootte kamerensembles zorgt voor een indrukwekkend oeuvre, die opmerkingen over de toestand van de mensheid met elk nieuw werk. Zijn louter originele stijl vertegenwoordigt een nieuwe en wellicht toekomstige richting voor deze kunstvorm. Stemper's muziek is een dagboek van soorten, een introspectieve en diep persoonlijke reis door het leven van iedereen.”
Utrecht, The Netherlands 28 Nov 2009
“Frank Stemper's music for orchestra, voice, and various size chamber ensembles creates an impressive body of work, which comments on the state of humanity with each new work. His purely original style represents a new and perhaps future direction for this art form. Stemper's music is a diary of sorts, an introspective and deeply personal journey through everyone's life.”
THE PERSISTENCE OF HONOR
— performed by Het Wagenings Orkest Sonanté - Melvin Margolis, Dir,
in The Netherlands
“Frank Stemper’s quintet, Chameleon, so successfully varied – or in his words “camouflaged” the elements of his theme as it was being varied, that I could not readily find its way or mine, which perfectly played into the composer’s hand, clearly executing his intentions for the music. As the best in EARPLAY’s program…”
San Francisco Post-Dispatch 5 November 1985
— performed by Earplay in San Francisco
Am ascultat apoi o lucrare pentru întregul ansamblu de un compozitor din Statele Unite, Frank Stemper, care poarta titlul sugestiv si oarecum paradoxal Rituale primitive pentru o societate moderna. A fost o prîma auditie absoluta si, deschizand o paranteza e bine sa sublinem acest aspect, mai ales când e vorba despre creatii stimulate de Archaeus si dedicate lui. E o muzica in care se topesc felurite influentein care se percepe asimilarea unor limbajuri diverse, trasatura caracteristica nu numai acestui autor, ci muzicii americane in genere.
VITRALIN, Anul IV (nr. 8) 1995
Periosic Al Centrului International de Cultura si Arte “Geaorge Apostu” - Bacau
“I then listened to a work for the entire ensemble of a composer in the United States, Frank Stemper, it bore the suggestive and somewhat paradoxical title “Primitive Ritual for a Modern Society.” It was ABSOLUTELY UNIQUE, creating a FRESH NEW DIRECTION. It is good to point out that this new creation was stimulated by the Archaeus Ensemble — and it was dedicated to them. It is a music that melts various influences combining an assimilation of various languages, the trait characteristic not only of this composer, but of American music in general.”
MODERN RITUALS FOR A PRIMITIVE SOCIETY
— performed by The Archeaus Ensemble in Bucharest Romania
“Ha az eminens alaposság konzervatív jegy,akkor FRANK STEMPER Vonóstriója az els? hangtól az utolsóig konzervatív m?. A m? minden mozzanata kottában rögzített, a szerz? kevés teret enged a megszólalás és az el?adás esetlegességeinek, sarkítva úgy is fogalmazhatunk, hogy a Vonóstrió írott alakja mindig jobb lesz a megszólaltatottnál. Nyilván ezzel függ össze, hogy a kompozíció papíríz?.”
Hangversenyciklus 2008a Magyar Rádió kortárs zenei sorozata
“If eminent thoroughness is a conservative mark, Frank Stemper’s String Trio tows that mark from the first sound through the last. Every moment of this work is precisely composed leaving little doubt as to the composer’s intentions. However, does this conclude that that precise written score will always be better than the realization by the performers? Is there then too little room for the added expression of the performers? The performers (American String Trio) effectively and artistically delivered the composers intentions.”
— performed live by The American Trio on HUNGARIAN NATIONAL RADIO – BARTOK I
Concert Cycle 2008 the contemporary music series of Magyar Rádió
"The Stemper retrospective was one of the finest concerts of contemporary music I’d heard in quite some time. Stemper’s music has matured over the years without losing its mischievousness, with many of its strongest qualities intact and in bold, sharp relief."
--Kevin Lynch, CULTURE CURRENTS, MAY 2012
The New Music Circle All-Stemper- 60th Brithday Concert
Lucy Shelton and the Altgeld Chamber Players
Kranzberg Center for the Arts, 7 April 2012, St. Louis
“Trylongenesis” des jungen Americaners Franz Stemper faszinierte nicht nur durch technischw und klangliche Brillanz, sondern auch durch das unüberhörbare Amüsement des Komponisten am Ausspielen der verschiedensten Klangregionen der Orgel, woran offensichlich auch der Interpret seine Freude hatte.
Vorarlberger Nachrichten 5 July 1990
“Trylongenesis,” by the young American Frank Stemper, fascinated the listeners not only with its technical intensity as well as the brilliance of sound, but also by the unmistakable fun the composer had in using the most divergent sound registers of the organ, a facet which obviously gave much joy to the performer, too.
— performed by Robert Roubos, concert organ, Vorarlberg AUSTRIA
"Trylongenesis" de Frank Stemper…ne-a prezeniat un moment din cautarile pretuite ale unei noi generatii de compozitori Americani.
Muzica – August 1988
"Trylongenesis" by Frank Stemper,…seemed to us to be a valuable moment of clarity, representing a new generation of American Composers.
— performed by Robert Roubos, concert organ, Bucharest ROMANIA