Josephine Stephenson (b. 1990) is a Franco-British musician living in London.
Josephine's work has been performed by musicians including s t a r g a z e, Liam Byrne, explorensemble, The Hermes Experiment, the Van Kuijk Quartet, the Albany Piano Trio, the Britten-Pears Contemporary Ensemble, the Ensemble Miroirs Étendus, Outcry Ensemble, The Erebus Ensemble, the Portrait Choir, the Maîtrise de Radio France and violinists Eloisa-Fleur Thom, Joo Yeon Sir and Fiona Monbet, in venues such as the Auditorium de Radio France (Paris), the Bristol Old Vic, and the Royal Albert Hall, Cafe Oto, National Portrait Gallery, St. John's Smith Square and LSO St Luke's in London. It has been broadcast on France Musique, BBC Radio 3 and BBC Radio 6 Music, and has appeared on television channels BBC Two and BBC Four.
In May 2014, her first opera On False Perspective, written with librettist Ben Osborn, was staged at the Britten Theatre as part of a collaborative project between the Royal College of Music and Tête à Tête Opera, and received positive reviews. In June of the same year she received a Composer Bursary from PRS/Bliss Trust to record her first orchestral piece Abend with Sinfonia d'Amici (cond. Harry Ogg), for whom the piece was written. The Classical Source described it as "a strong work matched with an equally strong performance", displaying "delicate textures" and a "kaleidoscopic orchestration". Her 40-part choral piece for the last night of the Bristol Proms 2015, if only, was described by Tom Morris as a "brilliantly ambitious piece, sparely and precisely scored, [which] seemed to paint the volume of air in the space with musical brush-strokes of precise detail".
Collaboration is central to Josephine's work. In 2015 she worked with the award-winning theatre company FellSwoop Theatre on Ghost Opera, a piece for two actors, string quartet and tape which started life at the academy of the Festival d'Art Lyrique d'Aix-en-Provence and subsequently toured the UK, and in 2016 she is working with the French theatre company L'Éventuel Hérisson Bleu on a new opera called Les Constellations - une théorie with the support of Lille Opera. Her interest in cinema has led her to make music for films, most recently the short film Emma, Change the Locks directed by Julia Hart and starring Olivia Williams (for which she won 'Best Composer' at Underwire Festival 2015), as well as regularly assisting composers Dario Marianelli and Benjamin Wallfisch on major productions. She also enjoys working as arranger for alternative pop bands. In July 2016 she was commissioned by the BBC and André de Ridder to write three arrangements for the David Bowie Prom at the Royal Albert Hall, collaborating with artists including Paul Buchanan (The Blue Nile) and Conor O'Brien (Villagers).
Josephine is an Artistic Director and resident composer of the London-based concert production company Listenpony, which puts on events mixing contemporary classical music with traditional classical music and popular styles. Listenpony has attracted a growing audience since its inception in June 2012, and is held regularly in bars, theatres, galleries, churches and crypts across London.
Josephine read music as an undergraduate at Clare College, Cambridge, before completing a Masters in Composition at the Royal College of Music as a Richard Carne scholar, graduating with Distinction in 2014. Her composition teachers have been Kenneth Hesketh and Giles Swayne, and she has participated in masterclasses led by Samuel Adler, Mark-Anthony Turnage, Georg Friedrich Haas and Ivan Fedele among others. In the summer of 2014 she was awarded the Clifton Parker Bursary to take part in the advanced composition course at Dartington International Summer School led by Colin Matthews, and in 2015/16 is a Britten-Pears Young Artist as part of the Composition Programme led by Oliver Knussen and Colin Matthews.
© Yuji Suzuki
A freelance soprano, Josephine sings with choirs and vocal ensembles such as EXAUDI, Tenebrae, The Tallis Scholars, The Erebus Ensemble, Philharmonia Voices and Britten Sinfonia Voices. She recently sang with the London Contemporary Orchestra on Radiohead's latest album A Moon Shaped Pool and is a founding member of the new vocal ensemble SHARDS which first performed as part of Nils Frahm's weekend festival 'Possibly Colliding' at the Barbican in July 2016 with artists such as Anna von Hausswolff and Wildbirds & Peacedrums.
Her interest and passion for contemporary music has led her to sing for many first performances, including the roles of Little Brother/Little Sister in Kate Whitley and Joe Snape's opera Bonesong (Carmen Elektra opera collective, Cambridge Zoology Museum and Edinburgh Fringe), Daughter in Joel Rust's Nauset (St Cyprians Marylebone) and Michelle in Peter Longworth's Harlequin (Royal College of Music, Great Exhibitionists). She recently sang Aperghis's La Nuit en Tête with explorensemble, and in 2012 gave a performance of Berio's O King with the Bristol Ensemble at Bristol's Elektrostatic festival of contemporary music. She also regularly performs for Nonclassical.
Josephine was part of the Maîtrise de Radio France, the French national radio children's choir, when she was a teenager, before being a choral scholar at Clare College, Cambridge as an undergraduate. Whilst at Cambridge she sang the roles of Yniold in Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande (Cambridge University Opera Society, West Road Concert Hall) and Filia in Carissimi's Jephte (Clare College Choir, France tour).