Featured Composer at Presteigne Festival 2014

July 23rd, 2014  |  Published in New Works, News

Andrew Burn, head of projects at the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and writer on 20/21st Cenury music, writes:

Stephen McNeff: Composer in Residence

“Residencies as one focal point of a festival provide valuable opportunities for the creative artist and audiences alike. For the latter there’s the chance to hear a range of work within a concentrated span of time, as well as to meet and engage with the creator, in this instance a composer, and to gleam what makes them ‘tick’. From the artist’s perspective, it provides a moment to take stock, and invariably the exciting invitation to create something new, because no residency would be complete without a premiere! Read the rest of this entry »

British Composer Awards nomination

October 24th, 2013  |  Published in News

chalklegendlinkThe Chalk Legends has been nominated for a 2013 British Composer Award. Announced on Thursday 24th October full details are at BCA

The BCA press release say, “BASCA is is delighted to announce the 39 works shortlisted for the 2013 British Composer Awards. The winners in each of the 13 categories will be unveiled at a ceremony at Goldsmiths’ Hall on Tuesday 3 December.” Read the rest of this entry »

Current Projects

October 23rd, 2013  |  Published in New Works


Stephen McNeff is currently completing a Concerto for Flute and Wind Orchestra which will be premiered in April next year.  The joint commissioners are the Lambeth Wind Orchestra conducted by John Holland  and the North Cheshire Wind Orchestra with Tom Newall   It will also receive an Irish premiere later in the year by the Dublin Concert Band with Fergus O’Carroll. The Concerto is specifically written for a non-professional, but very talented soloist of about ABRSM grade 8 standard and above.

Next year will also see another concerto, this time for oboe and strings.  It will be premièred at the Presteigne Festival in Wales and feature Illid Jones as soloist and the Presteigne Festival Orchestra conducted by George Vass.  McNeff is the featured composer at next year’s festival and other works to be performed include Clare McCaldin singing Madrigali Dell’Estate (see recordings) and his Cello Sonata.  Continuing the Festival’s new adventures into opera there will be an important new version of A Voice of One Delight newly adapted for an enlarged chamber ensemble of six players.  The new version – which will be called Prometheus Drown’dwill now include roles for an actor (as the voice of Edward Trelawney) as well as the original mezzo soprano.

September 2014 will see the première of McNeff’s new orchestration of Bizet’s Carmen for ten players.  Commissioned by Mid Wales Opera, it will be conducted by Nicholas Cleobury and directed by the legendary Jonathan Miller.  The opera will tour Wales and England from September to November giving over 26 performances.  More information at Mid Wales Opera

New Vocal Recordings

October 21st, 2013  |  Published in Recordings

finalcoverversionNew from Champs Hill RecordsMadrigali dell’Estate, Italian inspired vocal works by Stephen McNeff for Clare McCaldin (mezzo), with Andrew West (piano) and the Orchestra Nova Ensemble, conducted by George Vass.

Buy the CD from directly from Champs Hill Records
or from Amazon

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New Orchestral Recordings

September 25th, 2013  |  Published in Recordings


duttonNew from Dutton Epoc, The Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and Chorus in 4 works from 2005 – 2007, conducted by Dominic Wheeler.  The CD is a celebration of the association between the BSO and Stephen McNeff who was Composer in Residence from 2005 – 2008.

Buy it from Amazon

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Vivienne – new chamber opera

September 21st, 2013  |  Published in New Works, Reviews

mcneffA new one act opera for mezzo soprano and piano about T S Eliot’s ‘mad’ wife, Vivienne



Evening Standard *****
McNeff delivers an unpredictable yet instantly appealing score. The story unwraps in songs that always hint at popular idiom — crunchy bebop infuses her late-Forties mourning, Berlin-style cabaret hints at Eliot’s possible Fascist sympathies — but their structure is elastic and mutable. You enjoy the tune but never quite catch it. Kieron Quirke

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Secret Garden review

October 21st, 2012  |  Published in Reviews

Opera on Two Acts based on the novel by Frances Hodgeson Burnett

Newly revised version premiered by Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music in July 2012 and at the Banff Festival of the Arts in Canada in August 2012 conducted by Dominic Wheeler and directed by Kelly Robinson. Read the rest of this entry »

Chalk Legends review

August 21st, 2012  |  Published in Reviews

chalkTHE CHALK LEGENDS – When Viking skeletons were unearthed in Dorset it was the start of a tale that led back over a thousand years into a mysterious world… with a strange modern twist.

The Times
At this premiere it was also a triumph of hard work and organisation. The BSO, Dorset Youth Orchestra, eight local choirs and two dance companies successfully fused and struck sparks in a tricky rectangular space. Under MarkForkgen’s baton and Williams’s direction no cues were dropped, no note fumbled. Marvellous.
Geoff Brown


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The Chalk Legends

March 5th, 2012  |  Published in New Works

Stephen is working with Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra on their ambitious  2012 cultural olympiad project, The Chalk Legends.

chalkclifsThe Chalk Legends is the largest Dorset community-based music and dance project inspired by London 2012. With the Olympic Sailing Events to be held in Weymouth and Portland in 2012, the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and Partners wanted to find a way of also making the year memorable in music and dance. We have devised The Chalk Legends, a large scale music, dance and multi-media event culminating in a spectacular presentation at the National Sailing Academy in Portland – just days before the WPNSA becomes the focus of world-wide attention during the 2012 Olympic Sailing Competition. Read the rest of this entry »

Daughters of the elements

August 31st, 2011  |  Published in New Works, Reviews

Tête à Tête Opera Festival highlights this year included performances of Stephen McNeff’s Daughters of the Elements.

“Far more conventional but no less effective, Stephen McNeff’s Daughters of the Elements (simply but touchingly staged by Bankes-Jones) depicts Marie Curie and her two daughters reminiscing about Curie’s laboratory breakthroughs, her marriage, and her brief affair with a married scientist that scandalised Paris. With McNeff’s delicate instrumentation evocatively realised by the Chroma Ensemble under Robin Newton, and every word made crystal clear by Mary Plazas, Katherine Bond and especially Lucy Schaufer as Marie, the work emerges as an autumnal but lyrical song-cycle counterpointing the certainties of science against the unfathomable and often painful complexities of human behaviour.” The Times Read the rest of this entry »