Josephine Stephenson

b. 1990

French/British

Summary

Josephine Stephenson (b. 1990) is a French-British composer, arranger andperformer working across different genres and scenes. Described as “a bewitching combination of dissonance and sweet-toned cantabile”(Bachtrack), her music has been commissioned by institutions such as the BBC, Radio France, Wigmore Hall, Kings Place, Spitalfields Music, Nonclassical and Arcal Lyrique, among others. Performers of her work include the London Sinfonietta, Aurora Orchestra, Sinfonia Viva, 12 Ensemble, s t a r g a z e, Tenebrae, the Maîtrise de Radio France, The Hermes Experiment, Explore Ensemble, tenor Allan Clayton and guitarist Laura Snowden.

She enjoys regular collaborations with film and theatre makers (La Raffinerie, FellSwoop, L’Éventuel Hérisson Bleu) as well as songwriters and bands(Damon Albarn, Arctic Monkeys, Daughter, Benjamin Biolay). In 2021-2023 she is Artist-in-Residence at the Opéra Grand Avignon, where her first large-scale opera will premiere in May 2023.

Podcast: Composing Myself - Wise Music Group’s CEO Dave Holley and Creative Director Gill Graham chat to Josephine Stephenson.

Biography

Josephine Stephenson (b. 1990) is a French-British composer, arranger and performer working across different genres and scenes. Described as “a bewitching combination of dissonance and sweet-toned cantabile”(Bachtrack), her music has been commissioned by institutions such as the BBC, Radio France, Wigmore Hall, Kings Place, Spitalfields Music, Nonclassical and Arcal Lyrique, among others. Performers of her work include the London Sinfonietta, Aurora Orchestra, Sinfonia Viva, 12 Ensemble, s t a rg a z e, Tenebrae, the Maîtrise de Radio France, The Hermes Experiment, Explore Ensemble, tenor Allan Clayton and guitarist Laura Snowden.

Commissioned and recorded by Harry Ogg and Sinfonia d’Amici, her first orchestral piece, Abend, was described as displaying “delicate textures” and a “kaleidoscopic orchestration” (The Classical Source). Of her 40-part choralpiece for the last night of the Bristol Proms in 2015, 'if only', director Tom Morris said it “seemed to paint the volume of air in the space with musical brush-strokes of precise detail”. In 2016, her first chamber opera Les Constellations – Une théorie, a collaboration with theatre company L'Éventuel Hérisson Bleu produced by Miroirs Étendus and co-produced by Opéra de Lille, is first performed at the Bateau-Feu theatre in Dunkerque. In 2017, a song cycle written for the young chamber ensemble The Hermes Experiment as part of a residency at Spitalfields Festival, Between the war and you, was lauded by The Times as “music to arrest the ears and stop the heart”. In 2019, her second chamber opera NARCISSE opens at the Théâtre de Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines. Also in 2019, following a performance of her song cycle for tenor and string orchestra Une saison en enfer by Allan Clayton and Aurora Orchestra at the Wigmore Hall, Bachtrack said of her music that it “displays an assurance beyond her years”. In 2021, the choir Tenebrae commissioned Into the Wreck to include as part of its 20th Anniversary programme, ‘Humanity & Liberty’, and gave several performances with narrator Juliet Stevenson, with The Times describing the music as “hugely evocative and always beautiful”.

Stephenson enjoys regular collaborations with film and theatre makers (La Raffinerie, FellSwoop, L’Éventuel Hérisson Bleu) as well as songwriters and bands (Damon Albarn, Arctic Monkeys, Daughter, NZCA LINES, JamesRighton). With the Berlin-based ensemble s t a r g a z e she created new arrangements for the BBC David Bowie Prom in 2016 and for concerts with Lisa Hannigan in 2018. In 2021, the album 'Ex:Re with 12 Ensemble', a collaboration with the singer Elena Tonra and the string ensemble 12 Ensemble, comes out on the labels 4AD and Glassnote Records. In 2022, she arranged songs of Damon Albarn's for the project 'Symphonic Loops' with the Royal Concergebouw Orchestra, as well as songs of Benjamin Biolay's for his symphonic tour across France (Orchestre National de Lyon, Orchestre National des Pays de la Loire, Orchestre National d'Île de France, Orchestre Philharmonique de Strasbourg).

In 2021-2023 she is Artist-in-Residence at the Opéra Grand Avignon, where her first large-scale opera, Three Lunar Seas, will premiere in May 2023.

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Features

  • New Opera Highlights from Wise Music Classical
    • New Opera Highlights from Wise Music Classical
    • Wise Music Classical invites you to explore new highlights from our opera catalogue. In these recent and upcoming premieres, new productions, and premiere recordings, our composers and their creative collaborators explore subjects ranging from the historical (Hadrian, X: The Life and Times of Malcom X, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly) to the futuristic (Oryx and Crake), the fantastic (El Ultimo Sueño de Frida y Diego, Florencia en el Amazonas, Die Kinder des Sultans) to the thoroughly contemporary (Grounded, Blue, Innocence, The Shell Trial). Threaded throughout these works are perennial themes of loss, longing, magic, art-making, and community.
  • 'Composing Myself' podcast by Wise Music
    • 'Composing Myself' podcast by Wise Music
    • Composing Myself is an official Wise Music Group podcast series celebrating Wise Music’s 50th anniversary, presented by CEO Dave Holley and Creative Director Gill Graham. Over the course of this series, they talk to various Wise Music published composers around the world about their lives in and out of music along with excerpts of the composers works included in the podcasts.

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