Stuart Stevens is an experimental composer from Birmingham, England. Absorbing influences ranging from contemporary microtonality to acoustic physics, his work was described by Bill Lloyd, Director of Artist Development at Aldeburgh Music, as: “More meaningful than Stockhausen, more creative than Scrapheap Challenge, …Top Gear for the avant-garde musician and the curious passer-by.

Still early in his career, Stuart has quickly established an approach to microtonal harmony which is surprising even the most seasoned listeners and was described by conductor Dan Watson as “…extraordinarily beautiful and like nothing we have heard before.” He is something of a Harry Partch, in that he has designed and built several microtonal instruments to facilitate his work, including a giant chimes instrument tuned to 31-tone equal temperament commissioned by Aldeburgh Music.

In other contexts, microtonal tuning and spectral effects are very much at the serious front-edge of new music. In Stuart’s hands it is also playful and fun. This composer is a self-confessed democrat: he wants to take his listeners with him and we are happy to go.

Stuart’s works have been performed by a range of soloists and ensembles, including: Thumb; BCMG (Birmingham Contemporary Music Group); Chroma; Birmingham Philharmonic Orchestra; Notorious Choir; Thallein Ensemble; Decibel; and soprano Phillippa Cairns, with performances in Adrian Boult Hall, Birmingham Conservatoire Recital Hall, Aldeburgh Music (Snape Maltings), St. Mary-le-Tower Ipswich, and New Art Gallery Walsall. Recent commissions include: The Greatest (for the inauguration of the Mayor of Ipswich, UK); How Do I Love Thee? (for soprano Phillippa Cairns); Genus1 (commissioned along with installation instrument “thirty-one” by Aldeburgh Music, Suffolk, UK).

He has an unusual background for a composer. His first work (a forty minute requiem for orchestra, choir and rock band) was completed and premiered at the age of 45 – with no formal music education. Leaving behind his radiography and amateur band past, he went on to graduate MMus with distinction from Birmingham Conservatoire, studying composition under Michael Wolters and Joe Cutler. Just five years on from his compositional debut, he is now mid-way through his PhD research at the same institution, studying composition under Howard Skempton. His research is centred on creating works which explore the alternative functional harmony of microtonal scales.

Gordon Soames
Purple Music (Suffolk) LLP


Stuart Stevens receives an Eliza Avins Music Scholarship from the John Avins Trust and is grateful for the Trust’s support