Deep Dish is an engaging new piece for band inspired by the quintessential pizza in Chicago, from where composer James M. Stephenson hails. Deep Dish serves up a bluesy feel with challenging chromatic passages and saucy harmonies, and gives students the opportunity to create their own percussive sounds with kitchen utensils.


1 – Conductor
1 – Piccolo
4 – Flute 1
4 – Flute 2
2 – Oboe 1
2 – Oboe 2
2 – Bassoon
4 – Bb Clarinet 1
4 – Bb Clarinet 2
4 – Bb Clarinet 3
2 – Bb Bass Clarinet
2 – Eb Alto Saxophone 1
2 – Eb Alto Saxophone 2
2 – Bb Tenor Saxophone
2 – Eb Baritone Saxophone
3 – Bb Trumpet 1
3 – Bb Trumpet 2
3 – Bb Trumpet 3
2 – F Horn 1
2 – F Horn 2
3 – Trombone 1
3 – Trombone 2
3 – Trombone 3
2 – Baritone (T.C.)
2 – Baritone (B.C.)
4 – Tuba
1 – Timpani (with rolling pin)
1 – Bells
1 – Marimba
1 – Percussion 1: Cheese grater (with spoon), Sauce-pan, Garlic press and/or carrot peeler (or other similar devices) (shared with Percussion 2), Cutting board (with Pizza servers (shared with Percussion 2)), Bongos (or Congas, or both) (if possible, suspended sauce pans of different sizes), Dinner bell
1 – Percussion 2: Garlic press and/or carrot peeler (or other similar devices) (shared with Percussion 1), Small Suspended Cymbal (with ladle), Triangle, Timer bell, Turn knob (ratchet sound), Egg shaker (if possible, a restaurant pizza-spice container), Vibra-slap, Pizza servers (shared with Percussion 1)
1 – Percussion 3: Snare Drum
1 – Percussion 4: Bass Drum (with oven mitt)

Meet The Composer

Leading American orchestras, instrumentalists, and wind ensembles around the world have performed the music of Chicago-based composer James M. Stephenson, both to critical acclaim and the delight of audiences. The Boston Herald raved about “straightforward, unabashedly beautiful sounds,” suggesting “Stephenson deserves to be heard again and again!” A formal sense of melody and tonality characterize his music, each embedded in a contemporary soundscape. These qualities, coupled with the composer’s keen ability to write to each occasion, have led to a steady stream of commissions and ongoing projects. In just the last decade, Stephenson has added over 30 works to his wind ensemble/concert band catalog, including music ranging from middle school level up to a new symphony for the “President’s Own” Marine Band.

Most recently, Charles Vernon, Chicago Symphony bass trombonist, asked Stephenson to write a new concerto, a work to be premiered in their 2018/2019 season under the direction of Riccardo Muti. This, along with works for the Minnesota Orchestra, St. Louis Symphony, and Montreal Symphony, are all scheduled for premieres before the end of the decade. Additionally, Compose Yourself!, Stephenson’s landmark young-audience work has now been performed over 300 times since its creation in 2002, engaging children in New Zealand and Canada and across the U.S.

James M. Stephenson came late to his full-time composing career, having performed 17 seasons as a trumpeter in the Naples Philharmonic in Florida. As his catalog grew, so did his reputation. The vast majority of his compositions came through commissions by and for major symphony principal players, in Chicago, Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Minnesota, Washington DC, St. Louis, Oregon, Milwaukee, and Dallas, among others. A major break came from the Minnesota Commissioning Club, which led to two works (violin concertos) receiving premieres in 2012—by Jennifer Frautschi with the Minnesota Orchestra under Osmo Vänskä and by Alex Kerr with the Rhode Island Philharmonic under Larry Rachleff.

Jim originally hails from the Greater Chicago area, as does his wife Sally. In 2007 the couple, along with their four children, returned to the region to pursue the life they now share.

NOTE: The composer, James Stephenson, is more than willing to do skype rehearsals or personal residencies with this or any other works of his. He may be reached at or by visiting

About The Premiere

Deep Dish was premiered by the McCracken Middle School Band in Skokie, IL, directed by Chip De Stefano on May 23, 2016.