Solo Concerto and orchestra

Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Riccardo Muti, Zell Music Director

World Premiere planned for the 2018/19 Season.

Details to be announced!!

Commissions - Happenings


  • "Martha Uncaged" - concerto for trumpet and chamber ensemble. World Premiere at Music Academy of the West - the composer in residence and conducting. Paul Merkelo, soloist. July 11, 2017.
  • "Tributes" Violin concerto to receive West Coast premiere at the Cabrillo Festival. August 5, 2017. Jennifer Frautschi, soloist. Cristi Macelaru, conducting. The composer will be in residence that week.
  • Concerto for low brass section and orchestra with The Minnesota OrchestraOsmo Vänskä, conductor; Doug Wright, Kari Sundström, Andrew Chappell, Steven Campbell, soloists

Current Projects


    • Alto Saxophone concerto  A consortium led by Russell Kerns, to be premiered wit the Saratoga High School Band. Jason Shiuan, director. November 21, 2017.
    • there are no words - featured at WASBE International festival in Utrecht, the Netherlands. July 20, 2017.
    • Trumpet concerto #2 "Rextreme" to be recorded by Symphonic Winds Tokyo, directed by Yoshi Ito. Composer will be present.
    • Liquid Melancholy (clarinet concerto) - re-scored for classical orchestra. Performances/recording (Cedille Records) scheduled with the Lake Forest Symphony (May 20/21, 2017) and the Chicago College of Performing Arts (CCPA) at Roosevelt University; John Yeh, soloist Commissioned by the Lake Forest Symphony
    • The Storyteller - re-scored for solo trumpet and wind ensemble Commissioned for recording by the University of Michigan Wind Ensemble, Michael Haithcock, director 
    • Solo trumpet/piano work for Marc Reese, for the inaugural Roger Voisin Memorial trumpet competition.
    • Solo for trombone and loop station - Jeremy Wilson
    • Concert band works for Peter Haberman (Concordia College, Morehead), Craig Roselieb (Downers Grove South HS), Thomas Rohrer (W/NW CBDNA conference 2018 - Sonoma State),  David Alpar (USAF Band of the West), Rod Chesnutt (FGCU Wind Orchestra), Northbrook Middle School band, orchestra, chorus.
    • this is most certainly true - for wind ensemble - premiere: October, 2017 Commissioned by a consortium of 30 wind ensembles, led by James Ripley (Carthage College) - to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Lutheran faith
    • Luther: in Canon - for wind ensemble - premiere: November, 2017 Commissioned by a consortium of 30 wind ensembles, led by William Perrine (Concordia University Ann Arbor) - to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Lutheran faith
    • Concerto for low brass (section) and orchestra. The Minnesota Orchestra, conducted by Oslo Vanska. Soloists, trombone and tuba section. premiere date: June, 2018 Commissioned as a crowd-funded project, led by D. Wilson Ochoa - in memory of good friend Bill Zehfuss.

Recent Activities


  • Concerto for bass trombone and orchestra "The Arch" with St. Louis Symphony. David Robertson, conductor; Gerry Pagano, soloist.
  • Cantata based on "In Flanders Fields" (John McCrae) - for premiere performance in November to be conducted by Roï Azoulay at Congregation Shaar Hashomayim - also including wonderful friend/tenor Gideon Zelermyer.
  • Fanfare commissioned by the Montreal Symphony Orchestra (Spring 2017)

Schedule of Events


8-14: Performing at the St. Barts Music Festival
14-16: Composer residency at Gardner-Webb University, in North Carolina.
16-23 Eight performances of Compose Yourself! with Naples Philharmonic. (Stephenson conducting)


3: Symphony #2 - FGCU Wind Ensemble - Rod Chesnutt conducting
7-8: Piccolo Trumpet recording/performance at Peabody. Josh Ganger, trumpet
25: Blue Night *world premiere* with the Anderson Symphony. Richard Sowers conducts. In memoriam for Kent Leslie, former principal horn.
27 - March 2: Composer-in-Residence with Chattanooga Symphony; Violin Concerto "Tributes". Holly Mulcahy.


3: Liquid Melancholy clarinet concerto at Roosevelt University, CCPA. John Yeh, clarinet. Alastair Willis conducting.
7-10: Composer-in-Residence at Kennesaw State University. Performances of "there are no words", "Liquid Melancholy" clarinet concerto (John Warren), "The Devil's Tale", "Concertino and Fanfare"
9-11: American Bandmasters Association conference (Lexington, KY): "Glissin' Up" + "Symphony #2" (2nd mvmt) US "President's Own" Marine Band
10: WORLD PREMIERE - orchestra version of "there are no words" Frost Symphony Orchestra, U of Miami; Thomas Sleeper
11: Lake Forest Symphony - Jim Stephenson conducting family concert(s)
14: Piccolo trumpet concerto at Arkansas State University; Chris Wilson, trumpet


3-7 Elgin Symphony performs Compose Yourself! (Jim Stephenson narrating)
4: Three Bones Concerto at Indiana University; Jon Whitaker, Pete Ellefson, Tim Dugan.
6: Piccolo trumpet concerto performed/recorded at MTSU. Michael Arndt.
15: WORLD PREMIERE: work for trombone quartet and percussion quartet, Vanderbilt University
22-23: Recording of "Vast and Curious" at Fredonia University. Gail Williams, horn; Dan Perantoni, tuba. Wind ensemble conducted by Paula Holcomb. More info.
23: Piccolo trumpet concerto: FGCU winds. Matthew Sonneborn
28: “The Arch” Concerto Rhapsody, with the St. Louis Symphony. Gerry Pagano, bass trombone soloist. Conducted by David Robertson Composer in attendance. More info here.


Listen To Our Featured Works

music_sound       Violin Concerto "Tributes" w/ Jennifer Frautschi and Minnesota Orchestra Osmo Vanska, conductor music_sound Symphony #1 for Wind Ensemble as recorded by the USAF Band of Liberty Captain David Aplar, conductor music_sound       The Storyteller - in memorial: Bud Herseth Chris Martin, Barbara Butler, trumpets Sally Stephenson, violin; Rachael Kerr, piano

March 2017 Podcast by The Portfolio Composer

Listen To The Music On The Individual Offering Pages and Sound Cloud

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Recent Releases


Concerto Performer List

Over the years, Jim Stephenson has written concertos for an amazing group of musicians.

Here is a partial listing of the artists who have premiered Stephenson Concertos:

Violin concerto #1: Jennifer Frautschi Trumpet/piano concerto: Marc Reese/Lisa Leonard
Violin concerto #2: Alex Kerr Trombone concerto: Nitzan Haroz
Flute concerto: Bill Larsen “Tempest” trombone concerto: Joseph Alessi
Oboe concerto: Alex Klein Triple trombone concerto: Joe Alessi/Pete Ellefson/ Jon Whitaker
Clarinet concerto: Dan Gilbert, David Shifrin or John Yeh Bass trombone concerto: Matthew Guilford
Bassoon concerto: Norbert Nielubowski Tuba concerto: James Jenkins
Horn concerto: Gail Williams Brass quintet concerto: Jacob Cameron et al.
Trumpet concerto #1: Jeffrey Work Triple brass concerto: Charley Lea/Erich Peterson/Daniel Mattson
Trumpet concerto #2 (Rextreme): Rex Richardson
Trumpet Concerto #3: Ryan Anthony

Recent News and Upcoming Events

Regarding the West Coast premiere of Jim Stephenson's violin concerto at Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music
Jennifer Frautschi, soloist. Cristian Macelaru, Music Director.

Peninsula Reviews (Joe Sekon):
--The Violin Concerto, Tributes with virtuoso violinist Jennifer Frautschi was an amazing, artistic tour de force! Ms. Frautschi performs on a magnificent 1722 Antonio Stradivarius violin known as the “ex-Cadiz” that under her fingers produced a marvelous, rich, full sound that filled the Civic.
--All considered, Tributes contains three movements Allegretto deciso, Andante, Allegro agitato that developed into a musical composition of the highest creative order. After a musically tasteful opening, the work wasted no time in allowing Frautschi to demonstrate her commanding and artistic virtuosity. She produced throughout a most satisfying full-bodied robust sound, while also being able to conjure up in contrast moments of intimacy when called upon to do so. This work contained bursts of brass, against a steady, persistent pizzicato in the strings and brief jazz flavoring. Stephenson pointed out the influence of jazz great Louis Armstrong who “every day would ‘compose’ improvised solos of incomparable form and structure.”
--The second movement is a perfectly sculpted section with bassoon, cellos and basses setting a pulse with brass that wove through the texture. Cristi took full advantage of the lyrical elements in this movement and balanced the dynamics to allow Frautschi’s beautiful tone to coordinate the more dissonant moments with refreshing and passionate moments of exceptional finesse. Cristi created a flawless sense of the music’s ebb, flow and surge that allowed Frautschi’s cascades of notes to glisten with elegance, especially in the cadenza. Tributes is a work well worth hearing again!

--SFGate (Joshua Kosman): "the tuneful bounty of James Stephenson’s Violin Concerto, subtitled “Tributes,” drew a lovely, gracefully pyrotechnic performance from soloist Jennifer Frautschi"
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Looking forward to being on stage with my friends of the Lake Forest Symphony, and conducting them in a performance of my "there are no words" - a work created after the tragedy of the Charleston church shooting. It's a very personal piece for me.
If you're in the area, please make plans for October 7 or 8. We'd love to see you there!
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Stephenson, Mendelssohn, Dvorak

October 7, 2017, 8:00pm - October 7, 2017, 10:00pm

The Lake Forest Symphony invites its Composer-in-Residence James Stephenson to the stage to open the 60th anniversary season by conducting his powerful chamber work there are no words. Special guest v...

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