His work as a composer has taken him around much of the world, appearing at premieres of his music, giving lectures on American Music, and talking to young composers about their music. However, even while traveling the globe to attend orchestra rehearsals and premieres of his Classical works, Frank is always on the search for other Jazzers.
Whether in European capitals like Paris, London, Vienna, and Bucharest or mountain villages in Austria, Spain, and Mexico, he often sneaks away from the Classical concert halls in seach of jazz spots and jams with local musicians. They may not speak the same languages, but as soon as the music begins he's made some friends.
Although primarily a Classical Composer, Frank's roots are in Jazz Piano. He began as a kid, working in clubs around his hometown of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He then moved away in the early 1970's to pursue a career at the opposite end of the musical spectrum - as a Modern Classical Composer. His keyboard skills have served him well as a chamber music pianist as well as a soloist with orchestras and ensembles.
Compare two versions of
I GOTTA RIGHT TO SING THE BLUES
— the first with Tommy Sheridan when Gert was 38
— the second when she was 70, when she headlined at the Sacramento Jazz Festival with the Riverboat Rascals
— Gert singing at age 81 - with her son Frank's "Quintet"
In October 2015 Stemper relocated back home to Milwaukee after retiring from his 32-year academic position as Composer In Residence and Professor of Music at Southern Illinois University. He and his wife now live in Fox Point, where he continues to compose and work as a Jazz pianist. He performs often with small and large Jazz ensembles, including The Frank Stemper Trio, and particularly as a solo pianist. He also accompanies & coaches professional and student Jazz singers, and maintains a private teaching studio —JAZZSTUDIO for young composers and aspiring jazz pianists.
Hal Miller, c.bass & Frank Stemper, piano