School of Music > Faculty & Staff > Faculty A-Z > Stephen_Burns

Stephen Burns

BM The Juilliard School
MM The Juilliard School

Courses Taught
Applied Trumpet, Mindfulness for Musicians, Understanding Music, and Chamber Music.

Conductor, trumpet virtuoso, and composer Stephen Burns has been acclaimed on four continents for his consistently and widely varied performances encompassing recitals, orchestral appearances, chamber ensemble engagements, and innovative multi-media presentations involving video, dance theatre, and sculpture. Prof. Burns is the founder and Artistic Director of the Fulcrum Point New Music Project in Chicago. He co-curated with Augusta Read Thomas the 2016 Ear Taxi Festival of Contemporary Music in Chicago and is founding president of its sponsor New Music Chicago.  He began his studies at the age of ten and made his professional debut at the age of 14 performing the Handel Aria “Let the Bright Seraphim” with coloratura soprano Elizabeth Phinney. At 19 he won the concerto competition at The Juilliard School, performing the Jolivet Concertino at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall. In 1981 he was the first solo trumpeter to win the Young Concert Artists International Auditions resulting in debut performances at The Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall, and The Hollywood Bowl. In 1988 he won First Prize at the Maurice André International Competition for Trumpet in France, which brought him numerous international engagements, including national television appearances and tours of Europe, Asia, South America and the United States. 

Mr. Burns has performed in the major concert halls of New York, Boston, Washington DC, Los Angeles, Houston, Vancouver, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Paris, and Venice.  He has performed at the White House and has appeared on NBC’s “Today Show” and NPR’s “All Things Considered.”  His European tours have taken him to Italy, France, Spain, Finland, Germany, Holland, Portugal, and Switzerland for guest appearances with orchestras, as well as recitals and performances on radio and television.  On tour in the Far East he won rave reviews, which singled out his remarkable tone, musicianship, and technical facility.  Throughout his career he has appeared with many leading international orchestras including the Atlanta Symphony under Neeme Jarvi, The Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra under Iona Brown, The Ensemble Orchestral de Paris, The Arturo Toscanini Orchestra of Parma, the Japan National Philharmonic, Seattle Symphony under Gerard Schwarz, and a United States tour with the Leipzig Kammerorkester.  His recital programs often feature his own transcriptions of Falla’s El Amor Brujo, Prokofiev’s Lt. Kije, and Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, the latter scored for trumpet, cornet, flugelhorn, piccolo trumpet, bass trumpet, and piano.

In 1998 Stephen Burns was invited to create innovative new music programs as the Artist in Residence with Performing Arts Chicago.  In the process he created the Fulcrum Point New Music Project and the American Concerto Orchestra whose mission it is to champion New Art Music influenced and inspired by Pop culture, World Music, literature, film, art, theatre, dance, nature, politics, and social dynamics. The annual peace concerts have been held at the Holtschneider Performance Center at DePaul University, Holy Name Cathedral, Pritzker Pavillion in Millennium Park, and The Harris Theater for Music and Dance. These concerts have featured MacArthur fellow Vijay Iyer, members of the Gyoto Tantric Monks, and The Ju.Ju Exchange with Julian Reid and Nico Segal. 

A conducting student of Jorma Panula, Gerard Schwarz and Pinchas Zukerman, Mr. Burns often appears as both soloist and conductor with orchestras performing repertoire ranging from the Second Brandenburg Concerto and Haydn’s Eb major concerto to works by Copland, Shostakovitch and André Jolivet.  He has performed this dual role with the Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra, the Simon Bolivar Orquesta, the Orquesta da Camera del Tachira, the Sea Cliff Chamber Orchestra, and the American Concerto Orchestra. As a guest conductor he has performed with the Aspen Music Festival, the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, the Orquesta Sinfonica Castilla y León, the Ravinia Festival, and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s “Music NOW” series in Millennium Park.

The founding president of New Music Chicago Mr. Burns has given numerous premiers by American composers (Rorem, David Stock, Gunther Schuller, Robert Rodriguez, Philip Glass) as well as composers of international renown (Stockhausen, Franck Amsellem, Somei Satoh, Aulis Sallinen).  Committed to new music, Mr. Burns has written for trumpet, electronic music, chamber music and symphony orchestra. In 2007 he was commissioned by the Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago to write the electro-acoustic version of Reveille, “Wake Up, Y’all” as part of the Allora/Calzadilla installation “Wake Up.” “Fanfare for Humanity” was commissioned by the Chicago Humanities Festival for the 2003 opening Gala. His composition “Reflections,” a work created in collaboration with choreographer Ruby Shang, was performed around the Henry Moore reflecting pool at Lincoln Center in 1989.  At the request of Pipa virtuoso Yang Wei Mr. Burns wrote the incidental music to “Cat and Rat: the Legend of the Chinese Zodiac” as part of the Children’s Humanities Festival in Chicago. He is currently composing “Phalanx,” a multi-media work based upon American military musical themes.

Stephen Burns is a frequent guest artist at many prestigious summer festivals including Aspen, Santa Fe, Kuhmo, Tanglewood, Mostly Mozart, Spoleto, Caramoor, Lieksa, Ravinia, Grand Canyon, Moab, Estate Musicale St. Cecilia, and Divonne les Bains. His recordings include Telemann for Trumpet, with the American Concerto Orchestra, on Dorian, The Complete Sonatas for Brass by Paul Hindemith on Helicon, The Complete Brandenburg Concerti with Helmuth Rilling on Haenssler Classics, and Trumpet Voluntary on ASV records.  He has also recorded for Kleos, Musical Heritage Society, Delos, Classical Masters, Ess.ay and Grammavision.

Originally from Wellesley Hills, Massachusetts, Stephen Burns studied under Armando Ghitalla, Gerard Schwarz, Pierre Thibaud, and Arnold Jacobs at the Tanglewood Music Center, the Julliard School (BM/MM 1981-82), as well as in Paris and Chicago for post-graduate studies.  He has won many prestigious awards including the Young Concert Artists International Auditions, Avery Fisher Career Grant, the National Endowment for the Arts Recitalist Grant, the Naumburg Scholarship at Juilliard, “Outstanding Brass Player” at Tanglewood, the Maurice André Concours International de Paris, and the Helen Colburn Meier and Tim Meier Arts Achievement Award.  

Sought after internationally for master classes, Mr. Burns is on faculty at the DePaul University School of Music,  a certified teacher of The Art of Practicing and Performing Beyond Fear, a visiting lecturer at Northwestern University, visiting lecturer with the Amici della Musica Firenze, Italy, and a former tenured Professor of Music at Indiana University. Stephen Burns is a Yamaha performing artist.