Associate Professor, Music Director of Opera McGill
It is unusually fortunate when one figures out what they want to do with their life, but when that person is a 9 year old child who accidentally inherits a converted player piano from his new neighbors (because the instrument wouldn’t fit through their front door), it is magic. From the auspicious moment that Stephen Hargreaves sat down before that humble instrument, his love for music began. With no musical background of his own and none in his family, Stephen’s parents recognized his passion and engaged a local teacher to introduce him to the technical aspects of learning music. Stephen quickly dove into exploring music of all genres. He spent hours captivated by diverse composers spanning centuries, rapidly absorbing their languages. He sight-read and mastered piece after piece and it soon became clear that, in order to continue to progress, Stephen needed to find a conservatory based high-school. Having added horn a few years after the piano, his parents lovingly packed him (and his smaller instrument) and moved him to the Walnut Hill School for Performing Arts just outside of Boston.
Walnut Hill provided a strong base that readied Stephen for his collegiate years at Indiana University where Stephen chose to major in horn as a student of the acclaimed Myron Bloom and continued his piano studies with Reiko Neriki. After passing out of many of his freshman year core requirements, he needed additional credits and registered for an accompaniment class. Stephen was assigned to play for legendary soprano Martina Arroyo’s singers and quickly found himself enamored with the vocal repertoire. In his third year at Indiana, Stephen played for Ardo Opera’s performance of Turn of the Screw and this experience shaped the direction of his life moving forward. During Stephen’s senior year, he managed to accompany 40 recitals (including performing his own horn recital), perform a Barber of Seville, and left during the school year for a month to work professionally with Dayton Opera. He graduated with honors.
Post university, Hargreaves lived in Chicago, where he joined the staff of Chicago Opera Theater. At the time Stephen worked with COT, the company head was Brian Dickie. Dickie shaped COT as a boutique company performing eclectic works. In Stephen’s 13 seasons with COT, he fulfilled every musical job imaginable: répétiteur, coach, orchestral pianist, outreach pianist, recital accompanist, music librarian, continuo, chorus master, assistant conductor and conductor. Stephen was steeped in baroque and classical operas performed on period instruments and the most challenging of contemporary opera. When not performing with COT, Stephen freelanced in similar roles nationally and internationally. He has conducted at companies including Union Avenue Opera, Opera Omaha, Glimmerglass, Chicago Opera Theater, Banff, Pine Mountain Music Festival, Festival Lyrique de Belle-île-en-mer, Opera McGill and University of Toronto. He has assisted conductors including Harry Bicket, Jane Glover, Steuart Bedford, Johannes Debus, Pablo Heras-Casado, Rinaldo Alessandrini, Julius Rudel, Raymond Leppard, Emmanuelle Haïm and Michael Hofstetter at companies including Santa Fe Opera, Canadian Opera Company, Washington National Opera and Chicago Opera Theater.
As a recitalist and collaborative pianist, Stephen regularly performed at Preston Bradley Hall (Chicago) and the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre (Toronto). In 2014, he released a solo piano album, Variations on 1930, a collection of colorful virtuosic works composed around 1930. Collaboratively, he has accompanied singers including Anita Rachvelishvili, Samuel Ramey, Clémentine Margaine, Janai Brugger, and Jonathan Beyer. He also has toured extensively with Hudson Shad, a five voice quintet with piano, throughout the US, Germany and Macau. Hargreaves is an active harpsichordist, playing continuo for operatic productions at companies including Santa Fe Opera, Canadian Opera Company, Brooklyn Academy of Music and Chicago Opera Theater. He also is known for leading from the keyboard, conducting Ricky Ian Gordon’s Orpheus and Euridice and Jake Heggie’s Three Decembers from the piano for Chicago Opera Theater, le nozze di Figaro from the fortepiano for Opera Omaha as well as numerous productions for Opera McGill. He has created performing editions of two operas - a full edition of Chevalier de Saint-Georges’ L’amant anonyme as well as an eleven instrument reorchestration of Bluebeard’s Castle. Based in Montréal, he is currently an associate professor at McGill, the music director of Opera McGill and the recipient of the Schulich School of Music 2021-2022 teaching award.
Recent productions: Il barbiere di Siviglia, Nabucco, Tosca (Union Avenue); Nightingale and Other Fables, Louis Riel, Maometto II (Canadian Opera Company); Alcina (Santa Fe); Don Giovanni, Les mamelles de Tirésias, Turn of the Screw, L’amant anonyme, Clemenza di Tito, Bluebeard’s Castle, Lucia di Lammermoor, East o’ the Sun and West o’ the Moon, and Dido and Aeneas (Opera McGill).