Meet our Conductor:
Dr. Stephen Mager
An active choral and opera conductor, Stephen Mager has conducted for Opera Theatre of Saint Louis in their education outreach performances. In this capacity he conducted the Midwest premiere of Hans Krasà’s Brundibàr (1997), and the world premiere of Adolphus Hailstork’s Joshua’s Boots (1999), as well as Lukas Foss’ The Jumping Frog of Calaveras County (2000) and Cary John Franklin’s Thunder of Horses (2001). In 2004 Mager composed and conducted his own one-act opera, Dream of the Pacific, and subsequently conducted this work for Washington National Opera (2006), with performers from the Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program, at the Millennium Stage of the Kennedy Center, and the Smithsonian Institution.
He holds a Doctor of Music degree from the Jacobs School of Music, Indiana University, where he also completed his master’s studies. His doctoral recital performances included Igor Stravinsky’s Mass (February 18, 2007); L’Enfance du Christ by Hector Berlioz (April 20, 2008); and Poulenc’s Un Soir de Neige (November 18, 2008). His teachers have included Jan Harrington, Julius Herford, Thomas Binkley, Robert Shaw, Margaret Hillis, Robert Porco, Dale Warland, John Poole, and Carmen-Helena Tellèz.
Dr. Mager has also conducted the Arcangeli Chamber Chorus, a summer festival professional ensemble with whom he recorded a full length album of his own Christmas carol settings (1998). In 1999 he conducted the chorus in a performance of the Requiem by Maurice Duruflé. Mager was conductor of the Masterworks Children’s Chorus, Belleville, from 1989 until 2000. Other conducting credits include the Saint Louis University Chorale; the Baden Chamber Orchestra; the Providence Singers, Saint Louis; and the St. Louis Chamber Chorus.
An active composer, Stephen Mager has written extensively for chorus and orchestra. His works have been performed by such distinguished ensembles as the Cleveland Orchestra and Chorus; VocalEssence, Minnesota; and the Dallas Symphony Chorus.
His choral symphony, Sinfonia Pastorale, received its Saint Louis premiere in 1997 with the Bach Society of Saint Louis, to critical praise: “the music does indeed have a painterly quality to it. The orchestration is complex and colorful, and the music is inclined to linger over beautiful images… [Mager] writes gratefully for the voice…” (Saint Louis Post-Dispatch).
In 2004, he was appointed composer-in-residence by the Bach Society, which has since commissioned several major choral works: an Easter choral cycle, The Lamb’s High Feast (2005); I saw eternity (2006); and in 2008, Missa lucis (“Mass of Light”), aptly described as “lushly lyrical” (Saint Louis Post-Dispatch).
His carol settings have also received critical attention: “Mager’s settings… went well beyond mere arrangements; the Noël de la Vièrge had a simple dignity and deft orchestral touch that set it above the usual holiday fare” (Saint Louis Post-Dispatch). His carols are featured on the compact disc, Joy for Every Age (1998). “These excellent carol settings… exhibit a slightly different kind of charm and sophistication that owes much to their more expansive…fully integrated orchestrations” (David Vernier, Classicstoday.com).
His opera, Dream of the Pacific, was commissioned by Opera Theatre of Saint Louis for the bicentennial of the Lewis and Clark expedition (2004), and subsequently produced by Opera Omaha (2005), Kansas City Lyric Opera (2005), and Washington National Opera (2006). “Mager excels at conveying a wide variety of feelings…all in a musical language that is both lyrical and comprehensible” (Washington Post).
Stephen Mager is also an accomplished organist and pianist. His publishers include Oxford University Press and MorningStar Music.