Stephen Roberts PHD MA BMUS ARCM is a British composer, arranger, horn player, conductor and pedagogue. He was a founder member of the Fine Arts Brass and since 2002 has been Professor of Orchestration at the Royal Military School of Music. He also directs the Birmingham Symphonic Brass. He has been guest conductor of numerous orchestras and bands, giving performances in over eighty countries. As a composer he has received commissions from symphony orchestras, chamber ensembles, brass and wind bands, as well as creating scores for media.
Composer & Arranger
Stephen Roberts has written hundreds of arrangements for brass, which are played around the world. His transcription of Holst’s Planets Suite has been cited as one of the landmarks of the brass band repertoire. His compositions embrace an unusally wide range of genres, from symphonic commisions for orchestra, such as the BBC Symphony Orchestra, through chamber ensembles such as the Britten Sinfonia or Bochmann String Quartet, to more unusal combinations, such as steel band or accordion with wind orchestra. He has also written scores for the media, including film and TV and won international acclaim for his scholarly reconstructions of works by Mozart, which have been performed by Sir Roger Norrington and recorded by the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and The Hanover Band. His association with brass bands has resulted in three commissions for test pieces at the British Open Brass Band Championship and other works that have featured as test pieces at the UK National Brass Band Championships, the Besson Swiss Open, the Australian National Championships and other contests.
A little history
Born in London, Stephen Roberts received his first music lessons from Sir Harrison Birtwistle. He studied horn with Alan Civil at the Royal College of Music and later gained a PHD in composition at the University of Birmingham. His first horn-playing job was at the age of eighteen with the Royal Ballet Orchestra, touring the UK with Swan Lake featuring the legendary Margot Fonteyn and Rudolph Nureyev. He then joined the Academy of the BBC and the BBC Northern Radio Orchestra in Manchester. In 1980 he became one of the founder members of the Fine Arts Brass Ensemble, travelling the world, giving hundreds of concerts and broadcasts. At the same time he became musical director of the Jones & Crossland Brass Band and gained considerable succes in the brass band contesting arena. His association with these groups has led to a lasting legacy of repertoire, much of which can be found on this site. Stephen also played with just about all the orchestras in the UK, often as guest principal, from the London Symphony to the BBC Big Band. As an orchestral conductor he conducted the Stephen Roberts Orchestra for BBC radio sessions and was associate conductor as well as composer in residence with the English Symphony Orchestra. As a pedagogue Stephen was lecturer in conducting and composition at the University of Birmingham, Professor of Horn at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire and became Professor of Orchestration for the Royal Military School of Music in 2002. More recently, in 2022, Stephen dusted off his French horn again to perform and direct the premiere of his own Concertino for Horn & Strings.
More works for orchestra and mixed chamber ensembles by Stephen Roberts are available from Composer’s Edition.