8 months ago


The Highland Park Landmark 041218

26 | April 12, 2018 |

26 | April 12, 2018 | The highland park landmark News North Shore resident to compose piece for Chicago Symphony Orchestra Jacquelyn Schlabach Assistant Editor For a final project in his summer course at Northwestern, Jim Stephenson was instructed to write a bad piece of music. The course, Adventures in Bad Music, had a backward approach to helping students discover what they do and don’t like. The 24-year-old at the time had never taken a composition course before this one, and surprisingly, wrote a “bad” piece that ended up being enjoyed by his classmates. It was that moment that encouraged Stephenson to begin writing music full time. “I was like well, if I try to write a bad piece and someone likes it, let’s see what happens when I try to write good music,” he said. “I started composing at the age of 24 and that grew and grew and grew.” His talent and love for music composition led him to receive an invitation in November 2015 to write a piece for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, which performs at Ravinia in Highland Park, that will be premiered during one of their concert weekends in June 2019. “It’s just one of those beautiful things that you never expect,” said Stephenson, a resident of Lake Forest. “I mean, this is literally the orchestra I grew up listening to. My dream as a kid was to someday play in the Chicago Symphony. That’s not happening, because I don’t play trumpet anymore, but this about as close or maybe even better.” Stephenson played the trumpet growing up in Lockport, and when he was 14 years old, a year after he attended Lockport Township High School, he knew if he was going to take his music career seriously, he needed to attend a school that focused on the arts. From sophomore year to senior year, he went to Interlochen Center for the Arts for high school in Interlochen, Michigan. Following graduation, he continued his music studies at New England Conservatory in Boston. His first job out of school was playing trumpet with a symphony orchestra in Naples, Fla. Please see Composer, 27 Lake Forest resident and composer Jim Stephenson was invited to write a piece for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra to debut in June 2019. The orchestra plays at Ravinia in Highland Park during the summer months. Sandy Swanson/22nd Century Media 1/3 SOLD! VOLTZ & WAUKEGAN | NORTHBROOK 847.461.9948 Plans, materials, prices and specifications are based on availability and are subject to change without notice. Architectural, structural and other revisions may be made as are deemed necessary by the developer, builder, architect or as may be required by law. Images are used for illustrative purposes only and may reflect available upgrades over standard specifications. NOTE: Window placement is determined by elevation style. Sound Off the highland park landmark | April 12, 2018 | 27 Social snapshot Top stories: From as of Monday, April 9 1. Boys Gymnastics: Giants’ newest addition claims all-around title at Bob Bohl Invite 2. Highland Park Toys R Us has six prospective buyers 3. As spring nears, Highland Park examines flooding 4. Gourmet cuisine, simple approach: Greenwood offers accessible, natural food 5. 10 Questions with Zak Levy, Highland Park volleyball Become a member: On Monday, April 9, Downtown Highland Park posted this photo with the caption, “Help make an impact and sign up for the Embrace the Race 5k on Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 13, 2018. Embrace the Race is a fun and inspiring event to raise funds for breast and ovarian cancer research at NorthShore University HealthSystem.” Like The Highland Park Landmark: On Monday, April 9, the City of Highland Park tweeted this photo with the caption, “Sustainability Sunday: Did you know that The City is growing native plants on city property to beautify the land, attract pollinators, improve habitats for birds and wildlife, and save on maintenance costs? You can grow natives in your yard too!” Follow The Highland Park Landmark: @hparklandmark Label: From the Editor A digital presence in modern journalism Xavier Ward As journalism evolves into the modern era, journalists have had to adapt to the ever changing flow of news. The speed at which we get the information out and the number of places you get news from has changed considerably since the heyday of the newspaper many years ago. However, accuracy is paramount — perhaps more so than ever before. News is everywhere. The unfortunate thing for those of us in the news industry is that it’s never been easier to call yourself a journalist. Grab a camera, start a YouTube channel, make a podcast or write a blog. Thanks to the internet, it’s never been easier. At the same time, being an accredited, trusted journalist has never been more difficult. News organizations live under constant scrutiny, as they should. The information we deliver to you has to be accurate, concise and relevant. Social media, in a way, has muddied that mission. The two main social media platforms news is delivered on, Facebook and Twitter, work with algorithms that deliver you the content deemed most important to you via the things you click on and the things you like and share. The Landmark has a digital presence on all of these platforms. Depending on how often you engage with our content, you may or may not see it frequently. However, if you’re taking the time to read this mildly self-indulgent column, you probably care about what’s going on in the local community. You want to know what the Highland Park City Council is up to, what new laws have been hatched at City Hall or just what new businesses are opening in the area. Well, that’s what we’re here for, to keep you informed about what’s going on in the local community. You’ll find the same content in our paper as you will online. If it suits your fancy, then go check us out online. If not, that’s fine too. You’ll keep getting the paper in the mailbox and we’ll keep working to make sure that it’s accurate, fact-driven content. What I will ask of you, however, is to hold us accountable. News organizations across the world thrive when their readers interact with them. When we get something wrong, tell us. We want to know. Our role as community journalists is to keep the community informed about what’s going on around them. Composer From Page 26 He had the summers off, which led him to take the Adventures of Bad Music course at Northwestern one year. In 2007, he quit the orchestra, and his wife Sally and their four children moved to Lake Forest, where he currently lives. That’s when his composition career began to take off. Stephenson has written approximately 250 pieces for various singers, soloists and ensembles such as the Minnesota Orchestra, L.A. Philharmonic, Atlanta Symphony and many more. He and his wife have their own business Stephenson Music, where Stephenson writes the pieces and Sally prints the music and ships them right from their home office. “For the most part, my business works with word of mouth,” he said. “So if I write a piece and hopefully somebody likes it, go figure 6 they’ll either put a video of themselves playing it or they’ll tell their friends about it. I mean social media is such a big help for us composers, it can also be a big hurt of course too, if I write something that’s terrible, then people will talk about that, as well. I’m only as good as my last piece, so I just try to put the best stuff out there that I possibly can and hopefully people will talk about it.” A few years ago, Stephenson wrote a piece that was played at Ravinia, which is where the Chicago Symphony Orchestra plays during the summer. A bass trombone player for Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Charles Vernon, approached Stephenson following the performance of his piece and asked Stephenson if he could see more of his music. Little did Stephenson know, Vernon brought the music to the conductor of Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Riccardo Muti, and he liked what he saw. An intriguing number from this week’s edition The number of bidders for the Toys ‘R’ Us building at 1610 Deerfield Road, Highland Park. Read about it on page 3. The Highland Park Landmark Sound Off Policy Editorials and columns are the opinions of the author. Pieces from 22nd Century Media are the thoughts of the company as a whole. The Highland Park Landmark encourages readers to write letters to Sound Off. All letters must be signed, and names and hometowns will be published. We also ask that writers include their address and phone number for verification, not publication. Letters should be limited to 400 words. 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