Stephen Mitton (b. 1991) is a composer, performer, and educator based in Mesa, Arizona. He holds a Doctorate in Music Composition from the University of Michigan where he studied composition with Bright Sheng and Michael Daugherty as well as a Master's degree in Music Composition from Arizona State University where he studied with Jody Rockmaker, James DeMars, and Rodney Rogers. Dr. Mitton has written socially and environmentally conscious music for a wide variety of genres ranging from contemporary dance to full orchestra. He is the recipient of numerous awards and grants and was most recently named MMTA's Commissioned Composer for the year 2021. Stephen has received commissions from various performers across the country, as well as several groups and organizations including Utah State University, Chicago Public Schools, the Arizona State University Bands and Orchestras, the Arizona State University BioDesign Institute, and the Arizona Flute Society.
In his compositions, Stephen aims to grab audiences’ attention by generating short, memorable motifs and melodies that serve an overarching narrative or concept and is intrigued by the possibilities that open up when a variety of harmonic languages converge to this end: lush tonality interspersed with harmonies built on open fourths and fifths; Debussian flourishes juxtaposed with twelve-tone rows. His music is frequently centered on exploring the mental landscapes where language, memories, dreams, and obscure emotions overlap, often working with concepts like multilingualism, nostalgia, liminality, and the development or perception of one's sense of self as time passes. Mitton is also deeply engaged in music about humankind's impact on the environment and the Earth's immense biodiversity, having written music about plastics pollution in the oceans and wildlife conservation, among similar topics.
Dr. Mitton is also an active performer, with a bachelor’s degree in cello performance from Utah State University where he studied chamber music with the Fry Street Quartet. He has participated in master classes with such groups as the Emerson, Ying, and Brentano String Quartets, and has given well-received performances throughout the United States. As an educator and pedagogue, Stephen has taught music at both the K-12 level and the collegiate level for over a decade, having held teaching appointments at Utah State University, Arizona State University, BASIS Phoenix Central, the University of Michigan, and Tempe Preparatory Academy. Much of Stephen's current work centers on championing emerging composers by facilitating commissioning projects with local ensembles and school districts through his publishing company, Leading Tones Music.