music by

Stephen Andrew Taylor

(with audio)


Recent and upcoming performances

Professor of Composition and Theory,
School of Music

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Illinois Modern Ensemble

Sunset in All Directions
for cello and chamber orchestra (2018)
In August 2017 our family drove down to Carbondale, Illinois for the total eclipse. It was like nothing in the world I’ve ever seen, and we’re making plans for the next one on April 8, 2024. The moments just before totality, in the words of my friend Matthew Ando, look like “sunset in all directions.” In this work I’ve tried to represent the celestial bodies involved — the Sun, Moon, and Earth — to evoke what it feels like to experience totality, and to create the musical elements of a mini-concerto for cello and orchestra.
Classical Behind the Scenes: Stephen Taylor, composer
3-minute documentary, produced by Illinois Public Media (2018)
University of Illinois professor Stephen Taylor composes and arranges a wide variety of music for pop bands - Pink Martini is but one example – but also transforms data sets, such as DNA, into music. He says, "I think music is always about something...what I'm trying to do now is do pieces about data that we have out in the world."
Maumee River Index
sonification with video (2018)
The Maumee River Index is a 4-dimensional animation that overlays publicly available USGS and EPA water quality data into a continuous, 136-mile cinematic aerial overview of a river and its surrounding landscape. Graphics and animation by Nate Wooten.
Ocean of Air
for trombone & electronics (2017) (listen on YouTube)
Many times in an airplane descending to land, I have felt the effort of the plane cutting through the atmosphere — an ocean of air, surrounding our planet, with all of us living on its ocean floor. This feeling hit home when we went on a family road trip to the Grand Canyon for the first time in 2016.
Exoplanet sonification
A sonified chart of exoplanets, originally based on XKCD 1071: Exoplanets, using data from the Planetary Habitability Laboratory. The lower the pitch, the bigger the planet. Plucked strings signify a hot planet; metallic sounds signify cold; warm planets sound like flutes. Planets which may be habitable have a special sound!
Sonification of Trump's Lies
Based on David Leonhardt and Stuart A. Thompson's article "Trump's Lies" from the New York Times, June 23, 2017.
Music and genetics: Compositions and sonifications
Series of works including Archaea for two carillons (with an interactive website); Indian Hedgehog (2015) for alto saxophone and electronics, premiered by Debra Richtmeyer in Strasbourg, France, July 12, 2015; and Variations Ascending (2015) for piano, premiered by Ian Hobson in New York City, October 13, 2015; "persuasive and evocative," the New York Times, October 14.
Paradises Lost
Opera based on the science-fiction novella by the late Ursula K. Le Guin; libretto by Marcia Johnson; commissioned by the University of Illinois. Chamber version premiere by Third Angle in Portland, Oregon, on January 20, 2012. Full premiere April 26-29, Urbana, Illinois. Featured at SummerWorks in Toronto, August 13, 2013; review.
The Machine Awakes
CD from Albany Records, featuring performances by three Grammy winners: pianist Gloria Cheng, violist Masumi Rostad (Pacifica Quartet), and hornist Oto Carrillo (Chicago Symphony). Includes The Machine Awakes, Seven Memorials, Quark Shadows, and Nebulae. Also available on Amazon and Apple Music. Fanfare magazine, July/August 2010: "...terse, pointillistic, abstract, precise... pretty and anything but shallow... With his refined and imaginative sound world, Stephen Andrew Taylor is a composer worth hearing."
Everywhere Entangled
For 12 percussionists, commissioned by the Moores School of Music at the University of Houston; released on the CD Everywhere Entangled on Albany Records.
World Without Words
For 13 saxophones, commissioned by Debra Richtmeyer. Premiere at NASA (North American Saxophone Alliance), Athens, Georgia, March 4, 2010.
For flute, harp, electronics and video, premiered at the 10th World Harp Congress in Amsterdam, July 2008; the two-movement version premiered in New York City and Montreal, August 2009. Released on the CD Voyage: American Works for Flute and Harp on Albany Records.

Seven Memorials
For piano, performed at Tanglewood by Gloria Cheng July 29, 2006; "sparklingly tactile." Allan Kozinn, New York Times, 8/2/06. Premiered October 24, 2004 by Gloria Cheng in Los Angeles. "...Cheng unveiled something big and special: the first performance of Stephen Andrew Taylor's 'Seven Memorials,' a splendid sonic tour of natural phenomena all over the globe." Richard S. Ginell, LA Times, 9/28/04.

Including articles on composition, sonification, the music of György Ligeti, and computer music.