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Stephen began his career in brass bands as a member of the Agnes Street Band from Belfast where he was Principal Trombone. He was BBL NI solo champion for two consecutive years during the mid-1980's. Stephen studied music at Queen's University, Belfast, highlights of which included being awarded a Harty Scholarship in his final year. This enabled him travel to London to receive lessons from Alfred Flaszynski, the then legendary Principal trombone of the BBC Symphony Orchestra.
Stephen decided to move into teaching and completed a PGCE at Stranmills College, Belfast before spending three years as a freelance peripatetic brass tutor in the Greater Belfast area. A move into the classroom followed in 1985 and 17 years as an assistant music teacher at Belfast Royal Academy. He became Head of Music at Belfast High School, a co-ed voluntary grammar school, in 2002 and held this post until his retirement from classroom teaching in 2017.
Stephen began his conducting career shortly after becoming a teacher and has held conducting positions with the 55th Old Boys band, the Agnes Street Band and the Laganvale Band. He has also worked with several bands both in Northern Ireland and in the South of Ireland. Since 2003 he has been the conductor of the 1st Old Boys Band from Belfast, enjoying much success in local contests, including four consecutive wins in the BBL NI Spring Festival 2016-2019 and leading the band to four European Brass Band Championships, including two second and one third places in the Challenge Section.
He was adjudicator for the Irish National Championships in Dublin in 2011 (all sections).
Stephen has been an examiner for GCE music with CCEA since 2000 and was both Scutineer for As and A2 Music and Assistant Principal Moderator for A2 Composition from 2017-2020.