Erich Holt Stem

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Erich Holt Stem (born 1973) is an American composer.

Early life and education[edit]

Erich Stem was born in Richmond, Virginia, and began composing music at the age of twelve. He studied composition under John Hilliard and Robert Gibson, earning a Bachelor of Music degree from James Madison University in 1996 and a Doctor of Musical Arts from the University of Maryland, College Park, in 2003.[1] He participated in the Orchestra Reading Project of the Minnesota Composers Forum (now the American Composers Forum) in 1995 with the Plymouth Music Series Orchestra, engaging in master classes with composer Stephen Paulus. He also participated in the Minnesota Orchestra’s 2002 Composer Institute, headed by Aaron Jay Kernis, with a composition titled Escape. It was subsequently performed by the Richmond Symphony Orchestra as part of their 2003-04 Masterworks Series.[2][3]


Stem’s works have been performed in the United States, England, Romania, and the Netherlands. His chamber music can be heard on albums by counter)induction, Juventas New Music Ensemble, SOLI Chamber Ensemble, and Cadillac Moon Ensemble. In 2004, he was commissioned by the Aurelia Saxophone Quartet to compose a work for a double CD release, featuring arrangements of Bach’s fugues and fifteen fugues by living composers. The album, C in Fugue of Dog, was nominated for the 2005 Edison Award.[4]

Stem accepted a position in 2004 as an assistant professor of music at Indiana University Southeast, where he founded and directed a music label, New Dynamic Records. By 2013, the label had released music by 44 living composers, including 28 world premiere recordings.[5] It was featured in publications such as Time Out New York,[6] Music and Vision,[7] the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,[8] and The Courier-Journal of Kentucky.[9] One of its albums (Breath Beneath by PRISM Quartet) made the "Top 10 CDs of 2010" list by Richard Scheinin of Inside Bay Area,[10] and another (Journey by Cory Barnfield) made the 2011 "Recommended Recordings" list of the Saxophone Journal.[11]

Stem’s music has been described as "sophisticated and intriguing" (The Washington Post)[12] and as having a "fluent and chaotic exchange that breaks minimalism apart" (A Closer Listen).[13] It pulls from a variety of sources, including American jazz, Japanese shakuhachi music, and Stem's interest in improvisation. His affinity for the history and towns of the United States led to a 2012 project called America By: A Symphonic Tour.[14] With Indiana University’s New Frontiers in the Arts and Humanities grant,[15] a consortium of American orchestras commissioned works from Stem. Each piece on the tour is intended to represent the unique attributes and history of one orchestra's hometown. The first orchestra of the project, Bainbridge Symphony Orchestra, commissioned a piece called "Bainbridge," which premiered on February 22, 2014.[16] On September 25, 2014, the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra performed Kentucky By as part of a statewide tour.

Stem is also one of the founding members of A/Tonal, a music performance group.[17]

Major works[edit]

Interviews and additional articles[edit]


  1. ^ Cunningham, Sara. "From Sea to Shining Sea". Indiana University Southeast Magazine. Retrieved March 5, 2015. 
  2. ^ Bennett, Bruce. "Members' Activities Column" (PDF). Retrieved March 5, 2015. 
  3. ^ "Composer Institute History". Retrieved March 5, 2015. 
  4. ^ "Aurelia Saxofoon Kwartet". Muziek Encyclopedie. Retrieved March 5, 2015. 
  5. ^ Walsh, Erica. "IU Southeast professor aims to bring classical music to younger generation through record label". Indiana University. Retrieved March 5, 2015. 
  6. ^ Giovetti, Olivia. "Breath Beneath (New Dynamic Records)". Time Out New York. Retrieved March 5, 2015. 
  7. ^ Standford, Patric. "Varied Influences". Music and Vision. Retrieved March 5, 2015. 
  8. ^ Druckenbrod, Andrew. "Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble 'Against the Emptiness' (New Dynamic Records)". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved March 5, 2015. 
  9. ^ Kramer, Elizabeth. "Best Bet: Kentucky Center Chamber Players to open season Sunday". The Courier-Journal. Retrieved March 5, 2015. 
  10. ^ Scheinin, Richard. "Inside Bay Area". Inside Bay Area. Retrieved March 5, 2015. 
  11. ^ "Recommended Recordings". Saxophone Journal. Retrieved March 5, 2015. 
  12. ^ Reinthaler, Joan. "Sunrise Quartet Shines on Local Works". Washington Post. Retrieved March 5, 2015. 
  13. ^ Murrieta, David. "counter)induction ~ {group theory}". A Closer Listen. Retrieved March 5, 2015. 
  14. ^ Cunningham, Sara. "From Sea to Shining Sea". Indiana University Southeast Magazine. Retrieved March 5, 2015. 
  15. ^ "New Frontiers in the Arts and Humanities grants awarded to IU faculty". Indiana University. Retrieved March 5, 2015. 
  16. ^ "Pines of Rome". Bainbridge Symphony Orchestra. Retrieved March 5, 2015. 
  17. ^ "A/Tonal Ensemble". A/Tonal Ensemble. Retrieved March 5, 2015. 
  18. ^ Williams, David. "An unusual trio with new music makes for a superb concert". West Virginia Gazette. Retrieved March 5, 2015. 
  19. ^ Ashraf, Mohammed. "SOLI Chamber Ensemble ~ Portraits". A Closer Listen. Retrieved March 5, 2015. 
  20. ^ Murrieta, David. "counter)induction ~ {group theory}". A Closer Listen. Retrieved March 5, 2015. 
  21. ^ Lee, Andrew. "Group Theory by counter)induction". I Care if You Listen. Retrieved March 5, 2015. 
  22. ^ Delarue. "Exciting, Cinematic New Sounds from Cadillac Moon Ensemble". Lucid Culture. Retrieved March 5, 2015. 
  23. ^ Pearson, David. "Cadillac Moon Ensemble's Debut Album Drops". I Care if You Listen. Retrieved March 5, 2015.