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New Compositions

The Cage We Make (Percussion Quartet)

Of Thy Noble Past (Concert Band)

A Waltz for One (Solo Piano)

 

Performances

2019-2020

 

May 2020

Premiere of Soft Snow

Héraðsdætur Women´s Choir

Reykjavik, Iceland

 

Blog Index
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Welcome to the official site for Wes Stephens. Here you can remain current on all of

his new works, commissions, premieres, performances, and clinics.

Monday
Aug152016

New Vocal Music 

In 2014 I began setting the poetry of Sophia Parnok to music. Now, after two years of issues I would rather not discuss, I can finally announce that my setting of The Friend to the Young Man in Love is available for performance. 

Saturday
Jul302016

N'Keigh's Lullaby

9 years ago this October the world got a little darker for me. I received an email from my uncle saying that my cousin N'Keigh Hodges had died. I remember staring at the computer screen for a solid ten minutes trying to comprehend the words on the screen, reading it over and over again because I was sure I had read it wrong. N'Keigh was my closest friend growing up. I always looked forward to either her visiting me in Missouri or my family driving down to Oklahoma to visit her family. For a long while we were each other's pen pals, writing detailed handwritten letters about what was going on in our lives and how much we both loved the X Files.

Her death affected me in ways that I am just now beginning to understand. At the time of the funeral I remember feeling the need to memorialize her in some way. I tried at least a dozen times over the next 9 years to capture what I loved about her, always falling short in some way. Recently, I began thinking about all the things N'Keigh was in the eyes of her loved ones. She was a loved daughter and a miracle baby that survived being born premature. I remember seeing pictures of my granddad holding her entire body in the palm of his hand when she was released from the ICU. Then she became a loving big sister to Katie Hodges. Then my cousins and I entered the picture and she played the role of the best friend. Later on in life she became a loving mother to two amazing kids, Seth and Julie. 

After pondering these thoughts I then began to write what would become my memorial to her. It is a delicate lullaby, something that I imagined could have been sung to her when she was in the ICU. At certain points the melody is harmonized, representing her singing the lullaby to her children. 

My hope is to record the song within the next couple of months and share it for those who would like to listen to it. 

Saturday
Jul232016

Drumline and Jazz

This week I got to work with the front ensemble at Central High School in St. Joseph, MO. The kids were great and the music was a blast to play and teach (they are doing the music of Chuck Mangione). I got to spend a lot of time behind the xylophone since our xylophonist was out of town on a trip. I forgot how much I loved playing xylophone.

On the transcription side of things I finished 'Til Then by Bobby Hutcherson just in time to test it out at the coming jazz jam. This chart was way easier to transcribe than Kathy due to the progression following the cycle of fourths and the chord extensions being pretty standard. It helped that the opening melodic statement descends in a sequence as well. 

The next tune I want to transcribe is Cal Tjader's Tanya (another chart named after a girl, sheesh). I find myself gravitating towards vibraphone heavy tunes. If only I had access to a vibraphone...

Saturday
Jul092016

The Ghost of Ear Training Past. 

When I was a student at OU I got asked to play drumset for a gig at the school of music. We did an arrangement of Kathy by Moacir Santos that included clarinet and a variety of percussion instruments. I had never heard the tune before then but I really dug it at the time. Fast forward to earlier this year. I wanted to play Kathy at some jazz jams but was not having any luck finding a lead sheet. So I get the idea to transcribe it myself. The melody and bass line were easy enough but the chords (and their chromatic extensions) were another story. This was the moment I kicked myself for not spending  more time on ear training. So, I bit the bullet and started an ear training regimen that was geared towards identifying various seventh chords and their extensions. After several months of work I have finished the tune. My ear is way better off and the process has made me a better musician. So the moral of the story for all of those college music majors out there is: Quit complaining and do the work.

Monday
Apr252016

NY Premiere of Emiko

Emiko is going to receive its New York premiere on May 21st. It will be performed by members of Concrete Timbre as a part of their Salon 3 series. The theme for this salon concert is "Expatriate" and will take place at The Drawing Room which is located on 56 Wiloughby St. in Brooklyn, NY. The performance starts at 8PM.