A message from Joseph Gentry Stephens
Date: March 2, 2013
Greetings fellow composers, conductors, and choral music fans,
Since I am new here, I thought I would introduce myself. I am writing to you from my small office/studio in my home among the Pine forests of Bradley County, South Arkansas. I have been composing in some form or fashion for most of my life, however, you have probably not heard of me or my music until now. A percussionist since the age of ten, I spent my early musical career in marching and symphonic bands as well as jazz bands. A student of drummer, Dave Daily and band director, George Gamble, I graduated high school as an All-State Percussionist and went on to the University of Arkansas - Monticello where I switched instruments as I became more interested in vocal and choral music. I graduated in 1995 with a BA in vocal performance and then earned a Master of Music in Choral Conducting (1997) from the University of Northern Colorado studying with Dr. Howard Skinner and Dr. Galen Darrough. After some time in the academic and sacred music fields I decided to abandon music as a day job and have since worked a "straight job" five days a week. I compose on my time off and holidays and have, like Borodin, dubbed myself a "Sunday Composer". I've taken a few composition lessons here and there with Sy Brandon and Edie Hill, but have otherwise not really studied composition formally.
In 1999, I created the website Stephens Music to distribute my music worldwide. Earlier versions of this site existed prior to 1999 as I began to see that the internet would change the game completely. My music has always been free to download, print, and copy and all scores are licensed by BMI. That is not to say that I don't seek to be published by other publishers. In fact, I have three pieces being reviewed currently by a well known choral publisher although, it has been ten years or more since I have submitted anything. I usually adhere to the idea that if a piece is good enough it will catch on and someone will eventually take notice. Again, the internet is the key player and great equilizer that allows such a thing to happen.
Currently I am writing a large work called A Mass for the Children of War for SATB Chorus and Strings. It utilizes text from the Liber Usualis, The Declaration of Independence, John F. Kennedy, Carl Sagan, William Blake and Joseph Gentry Stephens. I am about halfway done with it and if you are interested in hearing some of it you can go to my website stephensmusic.com and hear synth/instrumental versions of the first two parts. I don't think I am going to reveal anything more about the MASS until it is finished and will release all five parts/movements at one time later this year if all goes well. My other project on the drawing board is something I am calling Two Japanese Poems. It is a two piece set for unaccompanied SATB chorus with the titles ORCHID and NO MIND by Taigu Ryokan.
I enjoy looking at the music of other composers and welcome you to do the same. As you have time, take a look at my website and tell me what you think. Also here is one of the pieces I am trying to get published. I give you my UBI CARITAS for SATB Chorus sung by Carlolus Rex of London. They changed a note at the end but I forgave them because the recording was so well done. Special thanks to Jack for creating this forum and community and to everyone else at ChoralNet. I've been watching this site for many years and can honestly say it gets better each year.
Thanks for your attention and time.
Joseph Gentry Stephens