Stephen Mitton is an accomplished composer, educator, and performer based in Phoenix, Arizona. He holds a master's degree in composition from Arizona State University and has written for a wide variety of genres ranging from contemporary dance to full orchestra. Stephen is the recipient of numerous awards and grants, and his string quartet, Caricatures, was recently selected as a finalist in ASCAP’s Morton Gould Young Composers’ Awards. He has received commissions from various performers across the country, as well as several groups and organizations in the American southwest, including the Arizona State University Bands and Orchestras, the Arizona State University BioDesign Institute, Utah State University, and the Arizona Flute Society.
Mitton is currently employed as an orchestra and general music teacher at BASIS Phoenix Central – a charter school in downtown Phoenix, Arizona. As an educator, he is passionate about sharing new music with young audiences as well as underrepresented groups. As a platform for this effort, he co-founded Leading Tones Music in 2017, which is an online publisher of pedagogical and mixed-level band and orchestra music written by living composers throughout the world.
Stephen is also an active performer, having received a bachelor’s degree in cello performance at Utah State University where he studied chamber music with the Fry Street Quartet. He has participated in master classes with such groups as the Emerson, Ying, and Brentano String Quartets, and has given performances with various chamber and orchestral groups throughout Utah and Arizona. Mitton is also the founder of the Logan Quintet, which released its first studio album of Stephen’s sacred arrangements in March of 2018. This album, as well as several of his other studio recordings, is available for purchase on iTunes, Napster, and other distributors.
Stephen has wholeheartedly embraced the movement to create more mixed-level music for bands and orchestras. As of December, he has become the most prolific composer of mixed-level concertos for adult and school-aged ensembles (3 concertos total: tied with Zachary Bush). His most recent composition, Heroes, was commissioned by Hinsdale South High School and Middle Schools. Their band director, Alex Baxmeyer, writes:
Claire's Waltz (2017) and Reverie (2016) were premiered and recorded with musicians from Arizona State University and the Harmony Project Phoenix. When asked about what excited him the most about the intergenerational performance collaboration between those two organizations, Stephen stated that he greatly enjoyed "hearing so much new music, meeting the soloists in person, and seeing the positive response from the community." Clarie's Waltz is for solo violin with wind band accompaniment and was written in honor of the birth of his first daughter, Claire. Reverie features solo clarinet with wind band accompaniment and is written in a poignant and romantic style akin to Tchaikovsky's Serenade Melancolique.
After writing his first two mixed-level concertos, Stephen firmly believed that experiences such as the collaboration between a university band and a nonprofit music school for young students can and should be duplicated. The premiere of Heroes on December 5, 2018 brought together musicians from different schools and grade levels. Alex Baxmeyer reflects: