Conductor, trumpet virtuoso, and composer Stephen Burns is the Artistic Director of the Fulcrum Point New Music Project in Chicago and co-curator with Augusta Read Thomas of the 2016 Ear Taxi Festival of Contemporary Music in Chicago.   He has been acclaimed on four continents for his consistently and widely varied performances encompassing recitals, orchestral appearances, chamber ensemble engagements, and innovative multi-media presentations involving video, dance theatre, and sculpture.  He began his studies at the age of ten and made his professional debut at the age of 14 performing the Handel Aria “Let the Bright Seraphim” with coloratura soprano Elizabeth Phinney. In 1988 he won First Prize at the second Maurice Andre International Competition for Trumpet in France, which brought him numerous international engagements, including a Paris recital, national television appearances and tours of Europe, Asia and the United States.

Mr. Burns has performed in the major concert halls of New York, Boston, Washington DC, Los Angeles, Houston, Vancouver, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Paris, and Venice.  He has performed at the White House and has appeared on NBC’s “Today Show” and NPR’s “All Things Considered.”  His European tours have taken him to Italy, France, Spain, Finland, Germany, Holland, and Switzerland for guest appearances with orchestras, as well as recitals and performances on radio and television.  On tour in the Far East he won rave reviews, which singled out his remarkable tone, musicianship, and technical facility.  In recent seasons he has appeared with many leading international orchestras including the Atlanta Symphony under Neeme Jarvi, The Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra under Iona Brown, The Ensemble Orchestral de Paris, The Arturo Toscanini Orchestra of Parma, the Japan National Philharmonic, Seattle Symphony under Gerard Schwarz, and a United States tour with the Leipzig Kammerorkester.  His recital programs often feature his own transcriptions of Falla’s El Amor Brujo, Prokofiev’s Lt. Kije, and Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, the latter scored for trumpet, cornet, flugelhorn, piccolo trumpet, bass trumpet, and piano.

In 1998 Stephen Burns was invited to create innovative new music programs as the Artist in Residence with Performing Arts Chicago.  In the process he created the Fulcrum Point New Music Project and the American Concerto Orchestra whose mission it is to champion New Art Music influenced and inspired by Pop culture, World Music, literature, film, art, theatre, dance, nature, politics, and social dynamics. The 2013 15th anniversary season features the annual 9.11 Peace Concert at the Pritzker Pavillion in Millennium Park, the world premiere of “Altered States” complete film score by John Corigliano at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance in Millennium Park, and the launching of Fulcrum Point Discoveries, a new interactive workshop featuring new works by young and emerging composers in dialogue with performing artists and audiences.

A conducting student of Jorma Panula, Gerard Schwarz and Pinchas Zukerman, Mr. Burns often appears as both soloist and conductor with orchestras performing repertoire ranging from the Second Brandenburg Concerto and Haydn’s Eb major concerto to works by Copland, Shostakovitch and André Jolivet.  He has performed this dual role with the Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra, the Simon Bolivar Orquesta, the Orquesta da Camera del Tachira, the Sea Cliff Chamber Orchestra, and the American Concerto Orchestra. As a guest conductor he has performed with the Aspen Music Festival, the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, the Orquesta Sinfonica Castilla y León, the Ravinia Festival, and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s “Music NOW” series in Millennium Park.

The founding president of New Music Chicago Mr. Burns has given numerous premiers by American composers (Rorem, David Stock, Gunther Schuller, Robert Rodriguez, Philip Glass) as well as composers of international renown (Stockhausen, Franck Amsellem, Somei Satoh, Aulis Sallinen).  Committed to new music, Mr. Burns has written for trumpet, electronic music, chamber music and symphony orchestra. In 2007 he was commissioned by the Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago to write the electro-acoustic version of Reveille, “Wake Up, Y’all” as part of the Allora/Calzadilla installation “Wake Up.” “Fanfare for Humanity” was commissioned by the Chicago Humanities Festival for  the 2003 opening Gala. His composition “Reflections,” a work created in collaboration with choreographer Ruby Shang, was performed around the Henry Moore reflecting pool at Lincoln Center in 1989.  At the request of Pipa virtuoso Yang Wei Mr. Burns wrote the incidental music to “Cat and Rat: the Legend of the Chinese Zodiac” as part of the Children’s Humanities Festival in Chicago. He is currently composing “Phalanx,” a multi-media work based upon American military musical themes to be premiered at the Lake Placid Institute.

Stephen Burns is a frequent guest artist at many prestigious summer festivals including Santa Fe, Kuhmo, Tanglewood, Mostly Mozart, Spoleto, Caramoor, Lieksa, Ravinia, Grand Canyon, Moab, Estate Musicale St. Cecilia, and Divonne les Bains. His recordings include Telemann for Trumpet, with the American Concerto Orchestra, on Dorian, The Complete Sonatas for Brass by Paul Hindemith on Helicon, The Complete Brandenburg Concerti with Helmuth Rilling on Haenssler Classics, and Trumpet Voluntary on ASV records.  He has also recorded for Kleos, Musical Heritage Society, Delos, Classical Masters, Ess.ay and Grammavision.

Originally from Wellesley Hills, Massachusetts, Stephen Burns studied under Armando Ghitalla, Gerard Schwarz, Pierre Thibaud, and Arnold Jacobs at the Tanglewood Music Center, the Julliard School (BM/MM 1981-82), as well as in Paris and Chicago for post-graduate studies.  He has won many prestigious awards including the 1981 Young Concert Artists International Auditions, 1982 Avery Fisher Career Grant, the 1983 National Endowment for the Arts Recitalist Grant, the Naumburg Scholarship at Juilliard, “Outstanding Brass Player” at Tanglewood and the aforementioned 1988 Maurice Andre Concour International de Paris.  Sought after internationally for master classes, Mr. Burns teaches at the Tuition Free Conservatory at the Merit School of Music and is a former tenured Professor of Music at Indiana University, Visiting Professor at Northwestern University, and Visiting Lecturer at the Amici della Musica Firenze, Italy. Stephen Burns is a Yamaha performing artist.

Stephen Burns - Discography

  • 1998-Helicon
  •  Complete Hindemith Sonatas-David Korevaar, pianist
  • 1995 Dorian Discovery
  •  Telemann for Trumpet
  •  American Concerto Orchestra, Stephen Burns, Artistic Director
  • 1994 Hänssler Classic
  • Complete Brandenburg Concerti
  • Oregon Bach Festival, Helmuth Rilling, conductor
  • 1993 Gramavision
  • La Monte Young: The Melodic Version of the Second Dream of the
  • High-tension Line Step-down Transformer from the Four Dreams of China
  • 1993  Ess.ay
  •  Baroque Trumpetissimo!
  •  Concerti for Multiple Trumpets
  •  Philharmonia Virtuosi, Richard Kapp, Director
  • 1992  Northeastern
  • Taking Stock: Music of David Stock, Tekiah for Trumpet & Ensemble
  • Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, David Stock, Director
  • 1990 ASV
  • Trumpet Voluntary: English & Italian Baroque music for trumpet and
  • strings. Stephen Burns, Crispin Steele-Perkins and NY Chamber Orchestra
  • 1988 Classical Masters
  •  Requiem for the Challenger, trumpet & Organ
  •  Leonard Raver, Organist
  • 1984 Music Masters/Musical Heritage Society
  • Music for Trumpet and Strings
  • 1981 Delos
  • Shostakovitch Piano Concerto #1 Carol Rosenberger, Pianist
  •  Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Gerard Schwarz, Conductor

Page last modified March 3, 2015