Conductor, trumpet virtuoso, and educator Stephen Burns is the Artistic Director of the Fulcrum Point New Music Project in Chicago and co-curator with Augusta Read Thomas of the 2016 Ear Taxi Festival of Contemporary Music in Chicago. He has been acclaimed on four continents for his consistently and widely varied performances encompassing recitals, orchestral appearances, chamber ensemble engagements, and innovative multi-media presentations involving video, dance theatre, and sculpture. Steeped in Classical Music from Renaissance to Romantic, Mr. Burns has devoted the past 20 years to the exploration, creation and celebration of contemporary music, leveraging the creativity of composition, improvisation, electronics, theater, and performance art at the fulcrum point of social dynamics, spirituality, politics, art, and literature to create engaging new art music.
In 1998 Stephen Burns was invited to create innovative new music programs as the Artist in Residence with Performing Arts Chicago. In the process he created the Fulcrum Point New Music Project whose mission is to champion New Art Music influenced and inspired by Pop culture, World Music, literature, film, art, theatre, dance, nature, politics, and social dynamics. The 2016 season features the opening night concert at The Ear Taxi Festival at the Harris Theater in Millennium Park, the world premiere of a new work by Tomeka Reid as part of “Exhortation: The Black Composer Speaks” featuring new music by Black composers and the creation of “Creating Identity” Fulcrum Point’s education program, which explores the emerging identities of CPS middle-school adolescents through music, art and creative writing.
The founding president of New Music Chicago Mr. Burns has given numerous premiers by American composers (Ned Rorem, David Stock, Gunther Schuller, Robert Rodriguez, Philip Glass) as well as composers of international renown (Stockhausen, Franck Amsellem, Somei Satoh, Aulis Sallinen). Committed to new music, Mr. Burns has written for trumpet, electronic music, chamber music and symphony orchestra. In 2007 he was commissioned by the Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago to write the electro-acoustic version of Reveille, “Wake Up, Y’all” as part of the Allora/Calzadilla installation “Wake Up.” “Fanfare for Humanity” was commissioned by the Chicago Humanities Festival for their 2003 Gala Celebration. His composition “Reflections,” a work created in collaboration with choreographer Ruby Shang, was performed around the Henry Moore reflecting pool at Lincoln Center Festival in 1989. At the request of pipa virtuoso Yang Wei Mr. Burns wrote the incidental music to Caldecott Award winning author/illustrator Ed Young’s “Cat and Rat: the Legend of the Chinese Zodiac” as part of the Children’s Humanities Festival in Chicago.
Mr. Burns has performed in the major concert halls of New York, Boston, Washington DC, Los Angeles, Caracas, Vancouver, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Paris, and Venice. He has performed at the White House and has appeared on NBC’s “Today Show” and NPR’s “All Things Considered.” His European tours have taken him to Italy, France, Spain, Finland, Germany, Holland, and Switzerland for guest appearances with orchestras, as well as recitals and performances on radio and television. On tour in the Far East he won rave reviews, which singled out his remarkable tone, musicianship, and technical facility. Throughout his career he has appeared with many leading international orchestras including the Atlanta Symphony under Neeme Jarvi, The Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra under Iona Brown, The Ensemble Orchestral de Paris, The Arturo Toscanini Orchestra of Parma, the Japan National Philharmonic, Seattle Symphony under Gerard Schwarz, and a United States tour with the Leipzig Kammerorkester. His recital programs often feature his own transcriptions of Falla’s El Amor Brujo, Prokofiev’s Lt. Kije, and Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, the latter scored for trumpet, cornet, flugelhorn, piccolo trumpet, bass trumpet, and piano.
A conducting student of Jorma Panula, Gerard Schwarz and Pinchas Zukerman, Mr. Burns often appears as both soloist and conductor with orchestras performing repertoire ranging from the Second Brandenburg Concerto and Haydn’s Eb major concerto to works by Copland, Shostakovitch and André Jolivet. He has performed this dual role with the Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra, the Simon Bolivar Orquesta, the Orquesta da Camera del Tachira, the Sea Cliff Chamber Orchestra, and the American Concerto Orchestra. As a guest conductor he has performed with the Aspen Music Festival, the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, the Orquesta Sinfonica Castilla y León, the Ravinia Festival, and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s “Music NOW” series in Millennium Park.
His recordings include Julian Wachner’s “Blue, Green, Red” on Naxos, Telemann for Trumpet, with the American Concerto Orchestra, on Dorian, The Complete Sonatas for Brass by Paul Hindemith on Helicon, The Complete Brandenburg Concerti with Helmuth Rilling on Haenssler Classics, and Trumpet Voluntary on ASV records. He has also recorded for Kleos, Musical Heritage Society, Delos, Classical Masters, Ess.ay and Grammavision.
Originally from Wellesley Hills, Massachusetts, Stephen Burns studied under Armando Ghitalla, Gerard Schwarz, Pierre Thibaud, and Arnold Jacobs at the Tanglewood Music Center, the Juilliard School (BM/MM 1981-82), as well as in Paris and Chicago for post- graduate studies. He has won many prestigious awards including the 1981 Young Concert Artists International Auditions, 1982 Avery Fisher Career Grant, the 1983 National Endowment for the Arts Recitalist Grant, the Naumburg Scholarship at Juilliard, “Outstanding Brass Player” at Tanglewood and the aforementioned 1988 Maurice Andre Concours International de Paris. Sought after internationally as an educator, Prof. Burns is a senior teacher in The Art of Practicing Institute, founding faculty member at The Center for Advanced Musical Studies at Chosen Vale, Director of Classical and New Art Music at the Chicago Academy of Music, former tenured Professor of Music at Indiana University, Lecturer at Northwestern University, and Visiting Lecturer at the Amici della Musica Firenze, Italy. Stephen Burns is a Yamaha performing artist.