Composer Spotlight-Stephen Lias
Get to Know...Stephen Lias
Stephen Lias is a busy man! He has several exciting upcoming performances, just completed a new commission, and teaches full-time at Stephen F. Austin State University. We’re so happy he found time to share some of his thoughts with us! We work hard to just what he suggests; support works and provide opportunities for them to be heard in multiple performances!
Many of you may have heard his Sonata for flute and piano, which has achieved considerable popularity. Stephen’s work for solo flute, Flight of Fancy, was a finalist in the 2016 FNMC Composition Contest. Flight of Fancy was commissioned by the Texas Flute Society for the 2014 Myrna W Brown Young Artist Competition. Olivia Boatman will perform Flight of Fancy at the Florida Flute Convention on Saturday January 28th, if you’re attending don’t miss out on the opportunity to hear Stephen’s wonderful work!
Q&A with Stephen…
What about new music for the flute appeals to you?
One of the reasons that it is so fun to write for flute is how the community of flute players embraces and champions new music. In general, instruments with older repertoire and longer histories (like horn or cello), tend to be less embracing of contemporary pieces, while younger instruments (saxophone and percussion) are naturally drawn to newer pieces. Flutists are an exception to this trend. I've attended many flute conferences and am always delighted with the number of world premieres and recent works by living composers.
Describe your musical background and current activities.
Although I don't consider myself a very old composer, my creative life has already gone through a number of phases. My output has (at various times) focused on chamber music, or theatrical incidental music. For the last eight years, however, I've been focusing on writing pieces inspired by wilderness and the national parks of the United States. This new chapter has let me to serve as Artist-in-Residence at Glacier, Denali, Rocky Mountain, Gates of the Arctic, Glacier Bay, and other national parks, and the resulting pieces (both chamber and symphonic) have been performed all over the world.
Do you have any upcoming events that you would like our friends and followers to know about?
The most exciting upcoming performance will be in March when the Boulder Philharmonic presents my new piece "All the Songs that Nature Sings" at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts as part of the SHIFT Festival of American Orchestras. This work was commissioned with funds from the National Endowment for the Arts' "Imagine Your Parks" program and celebrates Rocky Mountain National Park. There are lots of other performances coming up as well, and they can all be found at: http://www.stephenlias.com
What advice can you give to flutists about approaching new music in practice?
The biggest request I always have of flute players who perform contemporary music is that they commit to helping the "life of the piece". It is very fashionable to commission and premiere a new piece, but for a new work to get any traction within the flute community, it will need more than a premiere... it will need multiple performances and teachers willing to recommend the piece to their students. The best collaborations between composers and performers come when the performers maintain a commitment to the pieces.
More About Stephen…
The music of STEPHEN LIAS (b. 1966) is regularly performed in concert and recital throughout the United States and abroad by soloists and ensembles including the Arianna Quartet, the Anchorage Symphony, the Oasis Quartet, the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival Orchestra, the Ensamble de Trompetas Simón Bolívar, the Boulder Philharmonic, and the Russian String Orchestra. His music is published by ALRY Publications, Brassworks 4, Cimarron Music Press, Alias Press, and Warwick Music, and appears on compact discs from Centaur Records, Teal Creek Music, Mark Records, and Parma Records. His pieces are regularly featured at major national and international conferences including the International Trumpet Guild, the North American Saxophone Alliance, and the ISCM World Music Days. Lias is also active as a composer of theatrical incidental music and served for eleven years as Composer in Residence and Music Director at the Texas Shakespeare Festival.
Recently, Stephen has become increasingly focused on being an adventurer-composer. His passion for wilderness and outdoor pursuits has led to a growing series of works about the national parks of the US. He has had residencies at Rocky Mountain, Glacier, Denali, Glacier Bay, Bering Land Bridge, and Gates of the Arctic National Parks, and has written over a dozen park-related pieces that have been premiered at conferences and festivals in such places as Colorado, Texas, Sydney, and Taiwan. Upcoming performances are planned for Fairbanks, New York City, Washington D.C. and New Hampshire. Among his current project is a new commission from the Boulder Philharmonic (funded by the National Endowment for the Arts) to create an original piece inspired by Rocky Mountain National Park. He is the founder and leader of Alaska Geographic's annual "Composing in the Wilderness" field seminar.
Stephen Lias received degrees from Messiah College, Stephen F. Austin State University, and Louisiana State University. His teachers have included Dinos Constantinides, Dan Beatty, and Darrell Holt. He is a Distinguished Arts Associate of Sigma Alpha Iota International Music
Fraternity and a member of ASCAP, NACUSA, the College Music Society, the Society of Composers, Inc, and the American Composers Forum. He is the Texas delegate to the International Society of Contemporary Music and serves as the Chair of the judging panel for the ISCM-IAMIC Young Composers Award. He currently resides in Nacogdoches, Texas where he is Professor of Composition at Stephen F. Austin State University.
If you liked Flight of Fancy…
Central Park Suite
Instrumentation: woodwind quintet
Year: 1991 rev. 2001
Forever Alive, Forever Forward
Instrumentation: flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano, and percussion
The Ghosts of Mesa Verde
Instrumentation: for two flutes (doubling percussion)
Instrumentation: woodwind quintet + alto sax
Instrumentation: Pierrot ensemble
Instrumentation: flute and clarinet
Mélange of Neumes
Instrumentation: flute choir
Sonata for flute and piano
Instrumentation: flute and piano
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The Flute New Music Consortium is an organization dedicated to the creation and support of new music for the flute.