The English conductor, Mark Stephenson, studied at the Royal Academy of Music in London. When he was only 21, he was auditioned as a 'cellist for Maestro Riccardo Muti and The Philharmonia, and subsequently played with the orchestra for ten years under Vladimir Ashkenazy, Carlo Maria Giulini, Bernard Haitink, Mariss Jansons, Eugen Jochum, Kirill Kondrashin, Lorin Maazel, Riccardo Muti, Seiji Ozawa, Simon Rattle, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Kurt Sanderling, Wolfgang Sawallisch, Yuri Simonov, Sinopoli and Svetlanov. In 1986 Maestro Sinopoli invited him to conduct The Philharmonia at rehearsals in New York, Verona, Tokyo, Brussels, East Berlin, Munich and Zürich.
In 1988 Mark Stephenson was awarded a bursary by the Rotary Club of Forest Hill to develop his conducting career in return for undertaking a major music education project in South East London. Supported by leading musicians, including Vladimir Ashkenazy, He formed London Musici and following the orchestra's London concert debut he was offered a major recording contract with Conifer Records (now BMG). His 1989 debut recording of Arnold Concertos was Record of The Week in The Sunday Times; his recording of music by Andrzej Panufnik was CD Review Classical CD of the Month. His second Arnold album was a BBC Magazine CD of The Year in 1990 and his Prokofiev recording in 1991 was Record of the Week in The Sunday Times. His 1989 recording of excerpts from Händel's Messiah featured Bryn Terfel and John Mark Ainsley as soloists and has since been re-released to critical acclaim on the Classic FM label. All his recording projects have been linked to concerts at St John's Smith Square, St Martin in the Fields and the Queen Elizabeth Hall. He has also recorded for Silva Classics, Campion and JVC (Japan).
In 1989 Mark Stephenson conducted the Scottish Chamber Orchestra at the Warsaw Autumn Festival for a celebration concert to mark Panufnik's return to Poland after over 30 years exile. This led to invitations to conduct London Musici in Warsaw by Polish Radio & TV in a memorial concert for Panufnik in 1991 and later to conduct the Polish Chamber Orchestra (1993) and Warsaw Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra (2001). In 1994 the choreographer Christopher Bruce appointed him Music Director of Rambert Dance Company with London Musici as Associate Orchestra. In 1995 he commissioned three new ballet scores from Julian Anderson, Adam Gorb and Roxanna Panufnik. He conducted the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra for Rambert's performances at the UN Festival of Dance in San Francisco of Christopher Bruce's ballet Meeting Point choreographed to Michael Nyman's score Where the bee dances. He has worked with world-class choreographers including Jiri Khylian, Paul Taylor, Ohad Naharin, Robert Cohan, Martha Clark, Per Jonson, Matthew Hawkins, Didi Veldman and Mark Baldwin.
Following the end of Jan Latham Koenig's tenure as music director of the Orqestra Nacional do Porto Mark Stephenson worked extensively with the orchestra during 1995-1996 introducing audiences to the music of Malcolm Arnold and Andrzej Panufnik as well as conducting the music of Portuguese composers such as Carlos Seixas and Bom Tempo. In 1998 he commissioned a work for the Orqestra Nacional do Porto A Mort De Ines De Castro from the young Portuguese composer Nuno Malo. In April 1997 he conducted a unique performance with London Musici at the Royal Albert Hall, the culmination of an 18-month music education project across ten London boroughs in youth clubs. The Miracles Project (principle sponsors: Singer & Friedlander and Arts & Business) was reviewed by The Times as 'one of the most positive stories in the arts'. It won numerous national awards and was televised by London Weekend Television. In 1998 he undertook a four residency at Thames Valley University with London Musici supported by The Paul Hamlyn Foundation and The Arts Council. Student-led projects included Music & Media Graduation Shows at both The Department of Education and The British Museum.
Following a concert in the atrium at the London offices of leading law firm Clifford Chance in 1999, Mark Stephenson launched Live Music in Atria, which has incorporated performances across 25 London including offices, hospitals, banks and shopping centres. In 1999 he also conducted recordings with London Musici and soloist Inessa Galante on Campion label. In 2000 in recognition of his contribution to building new audiences for classical music and his music education work He won a £20,000 Creative Britons Award (400 UK nominations, sponsored by Prudential). In 2000 he was invited to conduct London Musici to accompany Paul Taylor Dance Company at Sadler's Wells Theatre and conducted for them again in Washington DC and London in April and May. 2001 conducted the Warsaw Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra with soloist Chantal Juillet in works by Ravel and Andrzej Panufink. In 2001 he also volunteered to visit Mostar, Bosnia with members of the LSO and composer Nigel Osborne to help re-build the musical life of the war torn city. In 2002 he directed the KPMG Music in the Community Awards. In 2003 he conducted the Kennedy Center Opera Orchestra in Washington DC for Houston Ballet and Paul Taylor Dance Company in works by Orff, Bach/Stokowski and Offenbach. The same year he also conducted Sinfonia Varsovia (Polish Chamber Orchestra) with soloists Andrzej Bauer and Andrew Marriner in works by Mozart and Panufnik.
In 2004-2005 Mark Stephenson conducted Musici Nights [see article] concerts at Cadogan Hall, St John's Smith Square & Goldsmiths' Hall with soloists Delphine Gillot, Evelyn Glennie, Angelika Kirchschlager, Priya Mitchell, Iain Paterson, Patricia Rozario and Julian Lloyd Webber including works by R Strauss, Schnittke, Francis Poulenc, Arnold, Benjamin Britten and Dmitri Shostakovich. In 2005 he collaborated with BAFTA award winning animation director Suzie Templeton, producer Hugh Welchman and Breakthru Films on an animation film of Prokofiev's Peter & The Wolf for Channel Four Television. Leading architects Foster & Partners and acousticians Sandy Brown Associates are designing a portable concert system for London Musici with which he plans to introduce innovative classical music concerts to new audiences in unconventional locations throughout the UK. He will conduct the Philharmonia Orchestra in the screening premiere at The Royal Albert Hall in September 2006 and will appear internationally with orchestras from 2007. In 2006 he is engaged by the Philharmonia Orchestra and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra for a series of performances and will appear with orchestras internationally.
Since 1992 Mark Stephenson as guest conducted the BBC Philharmonic, Residentie Orkest den Haag, Het Gelders Orkest, Warsaw Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra, Polish Chamber Orchestra, San Francisco Ballet Orchestra, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Orqestra Nacional do Porto, Mostar Sinfonietta and the Kennedy Centre Opera Orchestra. He has conducted performances with leading soloists including Sergei Leferkus, Bryn Terfel, Inessa Galante, Michael Chance, Chantal Juillet, Michael Collins, Andrzej Bauer, Andrew Marriner, John Wallace, John Harle and Richard Watkins. He has commissioned works from Sir Richard Rodney Bennett, Sally Beamish, Julian Anderson and have worked closely on performances and recordings with Sir Andrzej Panufnik, Sir Malcolm Arnold, George Benjamin and H.K. Gruber.