Stephan Carlson, MM in Composition

Teaching Assistant, PhD Candidate

Stephan Carlson (b. 1990) is a composer and song-writer from northern Illinois. Stephan's musical interests include experimental instrumental techniques exploring the foundational, physical motions idiomatic acoustic instruments; vocal musics, including classic, contemporary, and experimental choral works, as well as a cappella and barbershop music; experimental electronic musics and technologies; and popular music styles like rock and metal.

Stephan earned his B.M. in Music Theory and Composition at Elmhurst College in 2013, where most of his work was in vocal and choral music. Some of the choral music he wrote at this time and since has been published by Alfred Music, and has been performed in the States, Canada, Europe, and the Pacific Islands. In 2017 he continued his studies at Northern Illinois University, where he began to explore contemporary music more deeply-- being particularly stricken by composers like Julia Wolfe, Eriks Esenvalds, Salvatore Sciarrino, and Gerard Grisey. In his own compositional work he sought to explore different methods of organizing and developing sound, and to develop new idioms for himself. 

He completed his MM in 2019, and is currently at the University of Iowa pursuing his Ph.D. Stephan's work at UIowa has involved composing pieces which use the physical motions of "playing" the instruments for which he writes as the fundamental materials of the work, rather than the sounds themselves. He has described these works as "choreographies of motion". In addition to this Stephan has been exploring electronic music techniques, including the development of tools via Max/MSP for the manipulation of sounds' spectra. The electronic pieces he has composed often feature voice as a primary element, and feature spectral manipulations (as well as other forms of synthesis) as foregrounded means of musical expression.

MM in Composition at Northern Illinois University