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Interlochen College of Creative Arts commissions new work from composer Jim Stephenson
Stephenson’s Symphony No. 4 will be premiered by Symphonic Band Camp participants as part of their final concert on Sunday, Aug. 13, 2023.
Interlochen College of Creative Arts has commissioned a new symphonic work from composer James “Jim” Stephenson (IAC/NMC 79-84, 86; IAA 83-86; IAC Fac 04, 08) for the Summer 2023 Symphonic Band Camp (formerly known as the Adult Band Camp). The work will be premiered during the program’s final concert on Sunday, Aug. 13, 2023.
“The musicians of the Symphonic Band Camp will have the opportunity to play an expanded work with large-scale development of themes and a deeper meaning, and will be able to say they took part in a world premiere by a major composer,” said Tom Riccobono, Instructor of Low Brass at Interlochen Arts Academy and conductor of the Symphonic Band Camp. “We will all grow as musicians from performing this work.”
An alumnus of Interlochen Arts Camp and Arts Academy, Stephenson is a prolific and sought-after composer for all genres. Stephenson’s past commissions include works for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, “President’s Own” Marine Band, and Boston Pops.
“I couldn’t be more thrilled to ‘go home’,” said Stephenson in a video announcement on his Instagram page. “The music’s already churning about what I can write for that space, that place that I love so much and that gave so much to me.”
The commission was catalyzed by a leadership gift from an anonymous donor. Riccobono and Director of Continuing and Community Education Gary Gatzke are currently seeking to raise an additional $10,000 to fully support the commission. All donors who give $100 or more to the project will be acknowledged in the program for the world premiere performance.
Riccobono selected Stephenson to create the commissioned piece as a result of his long-held admiration for the composer’s work.
“I have been a great fan of Jim Stephenson's compositions for years, and have conducted, performed, and listened to many of them,” Riccobono said. “I especially like the ingenuity, creativity, and sense of humor that are instilled in all of his works.”
Riccobono and Gatzke spoke with Stephenson at length about the nature of the piece, ultimately agreeing that it would be most meaningful for Symphonic Band Camp participants to premiere a substantial symphonic work. The piece will be Stephenson’s fourth full-length symphony.
“I have conducted several of Jim's short fanfares—which are fantastic compositions—but left me wanting more,” Riccobono said. “I wanted to have a composition for the band that was an expansion on what I had experienced in the past. I am also familiar with Jim’s first three symphonies, and it is thrilling to see what he comes up with when given more space to express his ideas.”
The piece will be performed for a second time by the Interlochen Arts Academy Wind Symphony during the 2023-24 academic year. Riccobono and Gatzke hope that the piece will gain popularity with high school ensembles across the nation, helping prospective students learn about Interlochen.
“Our name will appear at the top of the sheet music, so every band that performs the piece in the future will know that the piece originated here,” Riccobono said.