The works of Michael Stimpson have been performed, commissioned, and recorded by some of the UK’s most distinguished artists including the English Chamber Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra, London Sinfonietta, Allegri and Maggini String Quartets, Bristol Bach Choir, Roderick Williams, Paul Agnew, David Campbell, Philippe Graffin, and Sioned Williams. A number of the UK’s finest venues have featured performances of his work including the Wigmore Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room, and Cadogan Hall, as well as a variety of UK festivals. International recognition has prompted performances in Australia, Europe, Iran and the USA.
His works are varied in their subject matter, the stimulus often from contemporary events, favourite authors, and poets. String Quartet No. 1 (Robben Island) reflected the breakdown of apartheid; The Stars Have Withdrawn Their Shining (harp), the life of John Ruskin; The Angry Garden (choir and orchestra) explored the issue of global warming; A Walk Into War (tenor and piano quintet) was based on the writing of Laurie Lee. Tales from the 15th Floor (cello and piano) was a personal account of over four months in intensive care; and Dylan (baritone and harp) celebrated the 50th anniversary of the death of Wales's most renowned poet, Dylan Thomas.
Michael's major work to mark the 60th anniversary of the end of World War 2, Clouds of War (choir and orchestra) was presented at Cadogan Hall in the presence of HRH Prince Michael of Kent, and guest speaker Kate Adie. 2009 focused on a four-stage evolutionary work, Age of Wonders, to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin. It began as a work for violin and piano at the Wigmore Hall with Philippe Graffin and Elizabeth Burley, guest reader Robert Tear. The Maggini Quartet premiered The Beagle (String Quartet, No.2), at the Peninsula Arts Contemporary Music Festival before the piece evolved further to string orchestra, Wigmore Hall, London Sinfonietta. The fourth and final stage, Transmutations, was commissioned and premiered in Darwin, Australia, which saw the work - duo, quartet, string orchestra and full orchestra - performed in its entirety at a large-scale open air concert.
Michael went on to write the four-act opera for soli, chorus and full orchestra, Jesse Owens, based on the life of the iconic US athlete who won four gold medals at the Berlin Olympics of 1936. With the aim of increasing opportunity and attracting new audiences to opera, he collaborated with poets John Agard and Grace Nichols on the libretto and designed the opera to have all the lead roles for BME/BAME singers, together with a mixed race chorus of all levels and abilities. Since then, Michael has completed Preludes In Our Time for piano (premiered at St. Johns Smith Square), two works from the poetry of Giovanni Pascoli, and a new work for solo harp: The Drowning of Capel Celyn (Sioned Williams, Purcell Room).
New works include String Quartet No.3 (Leonardo) for spoken voice and string quartet, Variations on Papaver Rhoeas (piano), The Balancing of Opposites (flute and piano), and Silvered Night for piano and orchestra. Both Variations and The Balancing of Opposites are available for online purchase (Philippa Davies, flute, and Megumi Fujita, piano). Another new work, Silvered Night will be released on CD in late 2020 with Mark Bebbington (piano). This was recorded in September 2019 at Henry Wood Hall with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, who were later joined by the City of London Choir to record The Angry Garden. Plans are in place to record two piano trios with the Aquinas Piano Trio in October 2020, subject to circumstances surrounding Covid-19.
There are four CDs of Michael's music: Journeymen (Allegri Quartet); Dylan & The Drowning of Capel Celyn (Roderick Williams, baritone and Sioned Williams, harp, Stone Records); Incidental Music from the opera Jesse Owens & Preludes in Our Time (Abigail Kelly, Johnny Herford, Megumi Fujita and the Philharmonia Orchestra, conductor Stuart Stratford, Stone Records); and Age of Wonders (Philharmonia Orchestra, Stuart Stratford, Stone Records).
Publishers of Michael's music and texts include Oxford University Press, Ricordi, and Creighton's Collection, amongst others.
Michael lives with his wife in the Chalke Valley, near Salisbury.