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Stephen was organ scholar at Trinity College Cambridge, where he gave a recital of the complete works of Messiaen. He made his debut as a conductor at Glyndebourne with The Rakes Progress in 1979 and was Associate Conductor of the Glyndebourne Festival Opera between 1981and 1983. He was also Resident Conductor of English National Opera from 1980 to 1983 and co-founded Opera 80, of which he was music director from 1987-90.
Between 1989 and 1990 he gave his debuts at the Royal Opera House, as well as in Australia and San Francisco. He was Artistic Director of the Queensland Philharmonic from 1996-99, and Artistic Director of Opera Northern Ireland from 1997-1999.
Stephen has made other appearances worldwide in Opera and in Concert Halls in Vancouver, Berlin, Detroit, Toronto, Miami, Sydney, Auckland, Wellington, Adelaide, Perth, Brisbane, Seville, Bilbao, Amsterdam, Aarhus, Nancy, Cape Town, Johannesburg, and most British opera companies.
UK Orchestras with which he has worked include the London Philharmonic, Royal Philharmonic, London Symphony, Bournemouth Symphony, Royal Scottish National, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, BBC Philharmonic, BBC Welsh and Scottish, as well as London Sinfonietta, English Chamber Orchestra, London Mozart Players, the Orchestra of St John’s and Scottish Chamber Orchestra.
Outside the UK he has conducted in Catania, Singapore, Riga and Belgrade. His Catholic repertoire covers composers from Monteverdi to Nicholas Maw and Takemitsu, but he specialises in Mozart, Rossini, Verdi and Puccini.
Stephen has composed a number of works himself, some of which have been recorded: including the opera KING, the string quartet The Rainbow Bear, Pas de Deux for flute and organ/piano, and a number of anthems and song cycles. Stephen currently divides his time between conducting, composing and playing chamber music