Patron – Stephen McNeff
Stephen McNeff studied composition at the Royal Academy of Music and did post-graduate work at the University of Exeter. He began his career working in theatres throughout Britain and he became Associate Director at the University of Manchester’s Contact Theatre. He went to the Banff Centre in Canada as composer in residence writing a number of music theatre works before becoming Artistic Director of Comus Music Theatre in Toronto. There he won a Mavor Moore Award for his opera The Secret Garden. On his return to Britain he won a Scotsman award at the Edinburgh Festival for his opera Aesop, written with long-time collaborator, the Cornish poet Charles Causley.
In 2005 he became Composer in Residence with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra where principal conductor Marin Alsop gave premieres of three new symphonic works, Heiligenstadt, Secret Destinations and the Sinfonia. Other works for the BSO included Weathers for chorus and orchestra, and Echoes and Reflections, premiered by Yan Pascal Tortelier. He also completed works for the BSO’s new music ensemble, notably LUX and Counting 1 and 2 (premiered in an exchange with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra’s Ensemble 10/10). The Chalk Legends, an opera oratorio with over 2300 performers, was commissioned by the BSO for London 2012
His Concerto for Flute and Wind Orchestra was premiered by the Lambeth Wind Orchestra in April 2014 and revived five performances in the first year with more scheduled. The Concerto for Oboe and Strings was first heard at the Presteigne Festival (‘filigree swerves of texture redolent of an almost baroque, Italianate sensibility’, according to Tempo Magazine) while his new orchestration of Carmen for Mid Wales Opera was greeted with great enthusiasm. Steph Power in Wales Arts review said, “ McNeff’s Carmen is recognisably Bizet (via Saint-Saëns and Ravel), but breathes quite another smoky atmosphere: Kurt Weill’s burlesque, ironic cabaret. With guitar and splash cymbal, saxophone and muted trumpet, McNeff opens the door to a rich and intriguing Carmen as direct social critique”.