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Stephen Montague

Stephen Montague

Stephen Montague (b. 1943)

Stephen Montague (b.10 March, 1943 Syracuse, New York) grew up in Idaho, West Virginia and Florida. He studied piano, conducting and composition at Florida State University (1963-67), received a doctorate in composition from Ohio State University (1972) and won a Fulbright Fellowship to work in Warsaw, Poland (1972-74). He first came to England as a musician with Strider Dance Co. (Richard Alston & co.), but since 1975 has worked as a freelance composer based in London and touring worldwide. His music has been widely performed, featuring in numerous international festivals, most recently at the BBC Proms (Royal Albert Hall, London), Sounds New (Canterbury), Wiener Musik Tage (Vienna), and Festival of Contemporary Music (Mexico City). Composer Portrait concerts devoted to his music have been given in London, Cambridge, New York, Houston, Mexico City, Vienna and Budapest. Major commissions include the BBC Proms, Portsmouth Cathedral (UK), Calgary Philharmonic (Canada), Hilliard Ensemble, International Computer Music Association, and a 35-minute work for narrator and orchestra for the London Symphony Orchestra (Benjamin Luxon, narrator) for the Barbican Centre, London, (with a further 14 performances by other leading British orchestras around the UK).

In addition to writing for traditional orchestral forces Montague has also written numerous more ‘experimental’ works such as his Horn Concerto for klaxon horn soloist and an orchestra of automobiles, and a concerto for piano, 8 motorcycles, brass and percussion. Although a long term UK resident, his compositional influences are often transatlantic. He comments: "I have lived in Britain since 1974 but my musical heroes remain American: I admire Charles Ives's unapologetic juxtaposition of vernacular music and the avant-garde, Henry Cowell's irreverent use of fist and arm clusters, the propulsive energy of minimalism and John Cage's radical dictum that all sound is music”.

Stephen Montague was a founder (1980) of Sonic Arts Network, Concert Director (1983-87) and Chair; Chair and Artistic Director of the SPNM (Society for the Promotion of New Music) 1993-98; Associate Composer with The Orchestra of St Johns, London (1995-97); Featured Composer: City of Oxford (1997-98); Artistic Director of Contemporary Music Making for All (2004-05); and the New Music Associate at Kettle’s Yard Gallery and Museum, Cambridge (2010-12), where he curates a monthly concert series. Internationally Montague has been a Guest Professor at the University of Texas – Austin in 1992, 1995, 2000 and the University of Auckland, New Zealand,1997. Since 2007 he has taught part time at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance (London).

Montague’s honours and awards include 1st Prize at the 1994 Bourges International Electroacoustic Music Competition (France), the Ernst von Dohnányi Citation for Excellence in Composition (1995), The Ohio State University Distinguished Alumnus Award (2000), Honorary Fellow (Hon FTCL, 2002), then Composer in Residence (2003) at Trinity College of Music, (London), and Honorary Fellow of Leeds College of Music (FLeedsCM, 2004). In 2006 his CD Southern Lament – (NMC D118) - featuring his piano works (played by Philip Mead), won the “Best New Piano Music Recording” award from International Piano magazine.

As a "virtuoso pianist" [New York Times] he has recorded for all the major European radio networks, performed at Carnegie Hall, New York City, London's Queen Elizabeth Hall and Paris's Centre Pompidou. In 1985 he formed a duo with pianist Philip Mead, Montague/Mead Piano Plus, which toured internationally. He also collaborated with the late sculptor, Maurice Agis, for over 20 years providing multi-channel electroacoustic sound environments for Agis’s giant inflatable sculptures Colourspace and Dreamspace. In his capacity as both a concert organiser and performer Montague has commissioned numerous works by leading composers which include Sir John Tavener, Michael Nyman, Frederic Rzewski and John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin).

Stephen Montague is currently working on an orchestral commission for the Birmingham Royal Ballet (David Bintley, choreographer) to be premiered in 2015, and a work for narrator and chamber ensemble for the 2014 New Music Biennale.

Compact discs of Montague’s works are available on NMC (UK), ASV (UK), Signum (UK), Continuum (NZ), Centaur (USA), Point Records (USA) and others. In addition to music he is an active cyclist, hiker and tennis player (the former Florida Junior College Tennis Champion).

Stephen Montague's page at United Music Publishers

KSO performance history

From the Ether    2014-15 Season