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While beginning his teaching career,

Stem continued composing. His

music has been performed in the

U.S. and Europe by groups including

the Minnesota Orchestra, Richmond

Symphony, Aurelia Saxophone

Quartet, Cadillac Moon Ensemble and

the Juventas New Music Ensemble.

In addition, Stem’s music has been

recorded on labels like Challenge

Records, and has appeared on many

regional and national radio programs.

While Stem first fell in love with

orchestra music through the classical

and traditional, his work reflects a

passion for supporting the idea that

orchestra music doesn’t have to be from

the 18th and 19th centuries.

Before his “America By” project, Stem

founded New Dynamic Records, a

record label produced by IU Southeast

for the purpose of discovering,

recording and distributing works by

current composers.

Since 2005, the label has invited

groups from all over the world to

campus for weeklong residencies to

record music.

“It sounds kind of funny, but so much

of the field is still dominated by dead

people,” Stem said. “It’s unique to find

projects where you’re dealing with

composers of today.”

Groups from Pittsburgh to San

Antonio to the Netherlands have all

recorded at IU Southeast through

New Dynamic Records’ efforts. Stem

continues his work with the label

while simultaneously working on the

“America By” tour.

The idea for “America By” began with

Stem’s original piece, “Kentucky By.”

He wrote the music in 2011 and 2012

not yet intending to go beyond the

region. Stem created a photo element

to accompany the music in “Kentucky

By,” which includes movements

representing day and night.

“I was really just trying to create

almost a movie score of a pictorial

documentary of Kentucky,” Stem said.

Stem began trying to find a group

to play the work and received some

inspiring feedback.

“A lot of people said it was cool, but

what they would really like is one done

of their own communities,” Stem said.

“That’s really what sort of gave birth to

the idea of doing this nationally.”

While it was the first to be written,

“Kentucky By” will be the second

piece performed. The West Virginia

Symphony Orchestra will perform

“Kentucky By” as part of their 2014-15


The Bainbridge Symphony Orchestra

was the first to perform their “America

By” contribution. Stem contacted the

group’s conductor, Wesley Schulz, and

traveled to Bainbridge Island, located

off the coast of Washington state in the

Puget Sound, in the spring of 2013.

“I liked how he wasn’t interested

Inspired by the film, Stem began

playing the violin and composing. If

he finished the work assigned by his

violin teacher, she would reward him by

playing one of his original violin duets

with him.

“It was like the ice cream at the end of

dinner,” Stem said.

Stem continued studying music as he

began college, earning his bachelor’s

degree in 1996 from James Madison

University. He earned a master’s degree

in music composition fromGeorge

Mason University in 1999 and then a

doctorate in music composition from

the University of Maryland in 2003.

After finishing school, Stem began his

career at IU Southeast in 2004. He

teaches music theory, ear training,

orchestration, composition and music


“It’s wonderful to be in an environment

where students are so passionate about

what they’re learning and to have a

university that’s so supportive of both

students and professors,” Stem said.

“It’s good for the creative process.”

Stem interviews Tiffany Craughan, trombone player with the University of Portland Orchestra, for inclusion in a