Stephen Mager: Composer -- Conductor

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Stephen Mager: Recent compositions and reviews

Published with Oxford University Press and MorningStar Music. Catalogue includes Christmas works for chorus and orchestra.

“These excellent carol settings by Stephen Mager exhibit a slightly different kind of charm and sophistication that owes much to their more expansive…conceptualizations and more fully integrated orchestrations. Rather than just follow a tune…Mager often adds a counter-melody or unique harmonization that recasts a familiar carol in a fresh setting… The choral writing is first rate…”

David Vernier of

  • (2005-present) Composer-in-Residence, the Bach Society of Saint Louis. Commissioned works include Sarabande (2016); Hommage à Saint-Michel (2014); Te Deum (2012); Missa Lucis (2008); I saw eternity (2006); Choral cycle, The Lamb’s High Feast (2005). Most recently, Three French Carols, which included a Saint Louis premiere, were performed at Powell Symphony Hall (December, 2009).Lushly lyrical, ‘Missa Lucis’ has some lovely writing. At times reminiscent of John Rutter, at other times offering a hint of Olivier Messiaen, Mager keeps things interesting and accessible. His choral writing shows a good understanding of the vocal forces available to him. There were some beautiful soloistic passages for the violin and flute… Sarah Bryan Miller, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch
  • ‘I saw eternity,’ subtitled ‘Reflections on a Bach Chorale,’ was lovely and accessible, a deserving piece of music…
  • Sarah Bryan Miller, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch

    Stephen Mager’s setting of three French carols went well beyond mere arrangements; the “Noël de la Vièrge” had a simple dignity and deft orchestral touch that set it above the usual holiday fare.

    Philip Kennicott, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch

  • (2004) Dream of the Pacific, opera in one act. Co-commissioned by Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and Opera Omaha. Also produced by Washington National Opera and Kansas City Lyric Opera. The work is scored for chamber orchestra, five soloists, and mixed chorus.

    The opera itself, with a score by composer Stephen Mager…scores a hit. …The music is always skillfully made and often eloquent… Mager excels at conveying a wide variety of feelings – affection, sentiment, exuberance, doubt, pain, deepest satisfaction – all in a musical language that is both lyrical and comprehensible.

    Tim Page, The Washington Post

  • (2002) Illuminations, song cycle for soprano, piccolo, and harp. Commissioned by Saint Louis Symphony flutist Jan Gippo. Recorded by flutist Lois Herbine, Philadelphia.

    The disc [also includes] the recently composed Illuminations, a wonderfully original song cycle by Stephen Mager based on texts in archaic English … Though soprano Janice Fiore isn’t the ideal interpreter, the piccolo and harp contributions by Lois Bliss Herbine and Sophie Bruno Labiner are models of color-driven expression.

    David Patrick Stearns,

    Mager’s Salterello is attractive…

    Jonathan Woolf, MusicWeb International

    Perhaps the most intriguing work on the program is Illuminations… by Stephen Mager. The six pieces of the cycle are settings of medieval manuscripts in Middle English and French touching on themes of love, absence, loss and resignation. The music combines medieval forms, rhythms, and melodic formulas with pleasantly modern harmonies, including polytonality. The three performers demonstrate loving and confident commitment to the score in this alluring performance.

    James Hildrith, The American Organist

  • (2001) Named Composer of the Year by the American Guild of Organists, Saint Louis Chapter. Honor conferred “for distinguished service in the cause of sacred music.”
  • (1997) Incidental music to poetry by young Jewish victims of the Holocaust, part of a production of Hans Krasà’s Brundibàr by Opera Theatre of Saint Louis.
  • (1995-97) Choral symphony, Sinfonia Pastorale, commissioned by the Masterworks Chorale, Belleville, Illinois (premiere, Dec. 1995). Revised premiere (1997), Bach Society of Saint Louis. The work is scored for two sopranos, mixed chorus, and medium orchestra.
  • “The music [has] a painterly quality to it. The orchestration is complex and colorful, and the music is inclined to linger over beautiful images… [Mager] writes gratefully for the voice…”

    The St. Louis Post-Dispatch

  • (1989-present) Over five dozen orchestrations, settings, and arrangements for small or medium orchestra of choral selections on commission, and for the Bach Society of Saint Louis, and the Masterworks Chorale and Children’s Chorus.