“Rarely has any composer presented us with music so inherently idiomatic: of all the 60 or so new works we have premiered, not one has more thoroughly and emphatically been conceived out of the medium for which it was designed. In his hands the string quartet is allowed to breathe, blossom, and resonate; and he is inherently alive to all the shades, nuances, and colours of which four stringed instruments – and a clarinet – are capable … In addition to these great virtues, he is also an expert craftsman, with a natural grasp of form and harmony – he has a particularly strong sense of movement, of evolving from slow music to/from high speed with no effort at all, almost as if superimposed. But above all, there is the emotional impact these pieces made: not only on the exceptionally attentive audience assembled, but on the four of us too.”

Alan George, Fitzwilliam String Quartet
photo © Faith Clark

Ian Stephens is a composer and arranger of increasing renown, with a string of high-profile commissions from professional arts organisations over many years. His original music has been widely performed in the UK and further afield by ensembles including the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Hallé Orchestra, Royal Northern Sinfonia, Brodsky Quartet, Fitzwilliam Quartet, Choirs of King’s College Cambridge and Salisbury Cathedral, and Brighouse and Rastrick Brass Band, and has been broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and 4. His children’s ballet Pinocchio, for Northern Ballet, opened in October 2021 and tours February-April 2022.

Forthcoming projects include a CD of his chamber music with the Fitzwilliam String Quartet, a concerto for double bass and strings for Toby Hughes, a new work for St Helens Youth Brass Band, and an orchestral suite from his score for Pinocchio.

He has produced arrangements and orchestrations for artists including Nicola Benedetti, OMD, Cate Le Bon, Ian Broudie and Boris Grebenshchikov; he created all the orchestrations for ‘And In The End’, a 12-concert tour with the Bootleg Beatles and Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra (2019, 2022).

Born in Sidmouth, Devon, Ian studied music at Bristol University and is based near Liverpool, where he takes a full part in the musical life of the city and the region as a composer, performer and workshop leader. He is a mentor on the Rushworth Young Composer scheme, and a Composition Tutor at Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester, and leads the Cambiata Choir of the Liverpool Philharmonic Youth Choir.

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