Irish born composer Stephen McNeff grew up in South Wales, where an inspirational teacher awoke his interest in music. After studying composition at the Royal Academy of Music, his career began by working in theatres throughout Britain, followed by a period in Canada where his posts included composer-in-residence at the Banff Centre. His reputation began to grow from the première of his opera for young people Clockwork in 2004, based on Philip Pullman’s book, at the Royal Opera House’s Linbury Theatre, and his appointment the following year to the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra as the first Royal Philharmonic Society/Performing Rights Society Foundation Composer in the House.
Stephen McNeff was born in Ireland, brought up in Wales and educated at the Royal Academy of Music in London. After working as a music creator in theatre he became Composer in Residence at the Banff Centre in Canada. He is best known for his work in opera and theatre. His opera Clockwork based on the novel by Philip Pullman was seen at the Royal Opera House Linbury Theatre and the ROH commissioned Gentle Giant adapted from Michael Morpurgo’s book. He went on to be the first Royal Philharmonic Society/PRSF ‘Composer in the House’ with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and this led to an increasing recognition of his versatility and adaptability in a wide range of genres. Equally at home in the concert hall or theatre, works like the operas, Vivienne (2014), Banished (2016) and Beyond the Garden (2020) have enjoyed wide audiences both in the UK and abroad, while choral pieces for the BBC Singers and Chamber Choir Ireland sit alongside solo instrumental works and concertos for oboe, flute and, most recently, saxophone quartet. Hedd Wyn, his opera commissioned by Welsh National Opera for TV was released on CD in 2022, while his song cycle for tenor Gavan Ring and pianist Louise Thomas, Ballads of a Bogman, was premiered in California, broadcast on RTÉ Lyric FM and recently heard at the Wexford Festival. Last year the BBC broadcast The Horizons of Doubt (with a text by Aoife Mannix) performed by the BBC Singers in a concert featuring a number of his a capella works. Recent commissions include a new choral work for Chamber Choir Ireland, Dives and Lazarus, premiered in Dublin and Belfast, and the opera, A Star Next to the Moon, based on Juan Rulfo’s iconic novel Pedro Páramo, at Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London.