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James Stephenson

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James Stephenson


James Stephenson (b. 1969, Illinois) is an American composer.

Mr. Stephenson came late to his full-time composing career, having performed 17 seasons as a trumpeter in the Naples Philharmonic in Florida, a position he won immediately upon graduating from the New England Conservatory of Music. As such, he is largely self-taught as a composer. Colleagues and friends encouraged his earliest efforts and enthusiasm followed from all directions.

His works have been performed by leading American orchestras and hailed by critics as having “straightforward, unabashedly beautiful sounds” and "Stephenson deserves to be heard again and again!" (Boston Herald). His music incorporates a fresh and energizing soundscape that delights the audience while maintaining integrity and worthwhile challenges for the performing musicians. This rare combination has rewarded Stephenson with a host of ongoing commissions and projects.

Recent collaborations include a concerto for Branford Marsalis with Rodney Mack; an exuberant fanfare for the Houston Symphony; and a concerto for the Philadelphia Orchestra’s principal trombonist, Nitzan Haroz. In 2010 and 2011, Stephenson premieres included a trumpet concerto in Sydney, Australia, (with repeats in Brazil, Sweden and the UK), as well as concertos for flute and clarinet in Florida and Ohio (Cleveland), respectively.

Stephenson is also active in the concert band world, with premieres occurring at major venues such as the 2010 Midwest Clinic, and the 2011 ABA (American Bandmasters Association) convention with the US “President’s Own” Marine Band.

His landmark educational work, Compose Yourself!, has now been performed over 300 times since its creation in 2002. Also active as a highly sought-after arranger, Stephenson's arrangements have been performed/recorded/broadcast by virtually every major orchestra in the country, including the Boston Pops, Cincinnati Pops, New York Pops and more.

Stephenson is currently enjoying a position of Composer-in-Residence with the Lake Forest Symphony (Illinois), Alan Heatherington, Music Director.

Works for Winds

Adaptable Music

All Wind Works


  • Cannon, Cormac. "Symphony No.2, 'Voices'." In Teaching Music through Performance in Band. Volume 11, Compiled and edited by Richard Miles, 1040-1049. Chicago: GIA Publications, 2018.
  • Lychner, John. "Deep Dish." In Teaching Music through Performance in Band. Volume 12, Compiled and edited by Andrew Trachsel, 363-371. Chicago: GIA Publications, 2021.
  • Sconyers, Julian H. "there are no words." In Teaching Music through Performance in Band. Volume 12, Compiled and edited by Andrew Trachsel, 863-870. Chicago: GIA Publications, 2021.
  • Stephenson Music
  • Talbert, Mathew D. "Second Thoughts." In Teaching Music through Performance in Band. Volume 12, Compiled and edited by Andrew Trachsel, 271-277. Chicago: GIA Publications, 2021.
  • Thomson, John. "Composing Without Fear." The Instrumentalist, Feb./March 2023, 5-9.