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Stephen Yarbrough   



Stephen Yarbrough, b. 1946, received his DMA in Composition from the University of Oklahoma, where he was a student of Michael Hennagin. He competed his Master's degree from Denver University, Denver, Colorado, the Rubin Academy of Music in Jerusalem, Israel, and the University of Oklahoma. He spent four years service in the Air Force as an instrumentalist (flute/piccolo) and arranger with the United States Air Force Academy Band. His Bachelor's degree was completed in 1968 under the tutelage of composer Charles Hoag at the University of Oklahoma. Dr. Yarbrough is now an Associate Professor of Music at the University of South Dakota, where he began his teaching career in the Fall of 1982. In 1989 he was commissioned by the Black Hills Chamber Music Society and the South Dakota Arts Council to write a work for the SD State Centennial. His Dakota Suite for chorus and orchestra was premiered with the Black Hills Symphony in Rapid City (conducted by the composer), and was specially selected for performance at the Governors Command Performance during the official Centennial Celebration in Pierre, SD.

The recipient of four Bush Foundation Grants, Dr. Yarbrough has been commissioned by many schools, churches, and ensembles, and writes for virtually every medium. He has published works for symphonic band, handbell choirs, and voice, and is represented in the catalogues of five nationally known music publishers. He is a writer-member of ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors, Publishers), for whom he has served as lobbyist in Washington, D.C., and from whom he has four times received the ASCAP Standard Award for his compositions. Dr. Yarbrough has also been the recipient of an Emerging Artist Fellowship, an Artists Career Development Grant, and an Artists Project Grant from the South Dakota Arts Council. He has three times received USD Faculty Development Grants, and was the winner of two South Dakota Music Teachers Association Composition Commission Competitions. His Dakota Suite has been broadcast three times by the South Dakota Public Broadcasting System, and was the featured work of the SDPBS Program Guide in November of 1996. His Remembrances and Praises, a twenty-five minute suite for brass choir, was commissioned by the University of South Dakota College of Fine Arts and premiered in a public concert as part of a three day ceremony celebrating the restoration of the University's historic Old Main classroom building in the Fall of 1998. His most recent award was acceptance as one of only thirty-five composer/ auditors at the Ellen Taaffe Zwilich Young Composers Workshop sponsored by (and held at) Carnegie Hall in New York City, N.Y.

Contact Information

306 Sycamore
Vermillion, SD 57069

Annual Updates



Celebrate South Dakota!, South Dakota Symphony Orchestra, Delta David Gier, conductor, celebration of South Dakota’s 125th Birthday of Statehood, Capitol in Pierre 11/1/14. Julian’s Showings, 8-song cycle, Hannah Lu, soprano, Susan Keith Gray, piano, University of South Dakota, 1/27/15; also, Robin Massie, soprano, Westminster Choir College, 3/29/15. With the Voice of Joy and Praise, All-State Orchestra, Mankato, MN; also, Florida All-State Orchestra.


Some of the Hidden Stars (song cycle, tenor, piano), Scott Piper, tenor, March 29th, 2014, Truman State University, Kirksville, MO, 3/29/14. Prince of Peace; Thou Glorious Rider (soprano, chamber orchestra), Kevin Hartnett, poet, commission Henry Charles Smith, conductor, Stacy Stofferahn, soprano, South Dakota Chamber Orchestra, Hoven, SD, 12/7/14. Julian Trio, commission The Rawlins Trio: Susan Keith Gray, piano, Eunho Kim, violin, Marie-Elaine Gagnon, cello. Prairie Winds, commission Wyatt Smith, organ. Offertory for Viola and Organ, T. David Lowe, viola, Hoisington, KS, June 2013. Sing for Joy! (choir, organ), commissioned choir members of Calvary Cathedral Church (Episcopal) in celebration of Monty Barnard’s 40 years of service to the music program of the Cathedral, Sioux Falls, SD, 4/24/14. LyricWood Overture, LyricWood Chamber Orchestra, Dakota Wesleyan University, Stephen Yarbrough, conductor, 11/3/13. Spirituals for String Orchestra, Lyricwood Orchestra, Liz Soladay, director, Dakota Wesleyan University, Mitchell, SD, Feb 2014. A Little March (bassoon quartet), University of S. D. Double Reed Workshop, Feb 2014


Attracting Opposites: New Music for Piano Trio professionally, The Rawlins Trio, includes Julian Trio, Azica Records. All Love Unbounded, Stephen Yarbrough’s 2nd CD contains twenty-one new compositions, released to CD Baby, Pandora, Amazon, et al, Jan 2014.




Stephen Yarbrough saw the publication of three of his works in 2012: Kenyon Songs, Seven Poems of Jane Kenyon (mezzo, orch), In Memoriam, SSAATTBB and Alleluias for Orchestra were all brought to publication by Ars Nova Press. Yarbrough’s Julian Trio (pno, vl, vc) was commercially recorded by the Rawlins Trio and will be available May, 2013. Spring and Summer 2012 saw the completion of two works for string orchestra, Christmas Joys for the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra, and LyricWood Overture for the LyricWood Orchestra in Mitchell SD. Both works will be premiered later this year. Dr. Yarbrough has recently begun work on a song cycle for tenor Scott Piper at the University of Michigan. Texts for the cycle are selected poems of Missouri poet Jim Thomas. Two of Yarbrough’s orchestra works are featured in SDak Tourist Department videos, each highlighting the beauty of South Dakota’s land and wildlife.


With the Voice of Joy and Praise, Lincoln Civic Orchestra, Lincoln NE. A Little Suite for Strings, USD Chamber Orchestra. Alleluias for Orchestra, South Dakota All-State Orchestra; also South Dakota Symphony Orchestra. Angel’s Dances (Orch) used for Welch’s Grape Juice TV commercials.


In Memoriam, SSAATTBB; Alleluias for Orchestra; Kenyon Songs, Seven Poems of Jane Kenyon (mezzo, orch): all published by Ars Nova Press.



The composer’s recent commissions include Julian Trio (piano trio), introduced October 27, 2009, by the Rawlins Piano Trio at the University of South Dakota; Fanfare Noel (brass choir), first heard December 11-13 by the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra Brass Section; The Joys of Mary (chamber orchestra), presented December 17-20 by the South Dakota Chamber Orchestra; and Everlasting Is His Love, a cantata for festival choir, brass choir, mezzo-soprano, baritone, piano, and percussion (still in progress). In 2009 Yarbrough received a second place award for “Best Contemporary Classical Album” (Alleluias for Orchestra) and a second place for “Best Contemporary Classical Song” (After School), both from the 2009 Just Plain Folks (JPF) Music Awards.


What Sweeter Music; for SATB choir, harp, and string orchestra; by Emerson Music Publishers, TE1030.


All Love Unbounded, a compilation of many of the composer’s newest works including the Julian Trio; In Memoriam, two SSAATTBB a cappella works in memory of the composer’s oldest son; Kenyon Songs - Seven Poems of Jane Kenyon, for orchestra and mezzo-soprano; Angel’s Dances, for full orchestra; and the twenty-five minute Sioux Falls Suite, also for full orchestra.



Angel’s Dances, a full orchestra work written as a Christmas present for the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra, is being used as the music for a new Welch’s Purple Grape Juice national TV commercial. The new ad began airing November 10, 2008, and will run for a year.


Two works received their premieres September 13, 2008, in a concert by the mezzo-soprano Emily Lodine with the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Delta David Gier: the twenty-two minute song cycle Kenyon Songs - Seven Poems of Jane Kenyon, and In Memoriam, two prayers for mezzo-soprano and orchestra in memory of the composer’s oldest son, Jonathan Lee Yarbrough, killed in a motorcycle accident last July. Dakota Diary, three-movement octet for  flute, oboe, horn, string quartet, and piano, was introduced September 23, 2008, by members of the National Symphony Orchestra, Terrace Theatre in the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington, DC. A Hymn of the Nativity, for tenor and orchestra, was first heard in a series of performances December 11-14 by tenor Scott Piper and members of the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra conducted by Henry Charles Smith, Sioux Falls, SD.


A December 2008 performance of A Hymn of the Nativity was filmed at one of St. Joseph’s Catholic Cathedral’s 12th annual “Christmas At the Cathedral” concerts in Sioux Falls, SD.


Kenyon Songs - Seven Poems of Jane Kenyon; mezzo-soprano and orchestra; In Memoriam (Two Prayers), mezzo-soprano and orchestra; Dakota Diary, three-movement octet for flute, oboe, horn, string quartet, and piano; A Hymn of the Nativity, tenor and orchestra; all by Sycamore Press.



Stephen Yarbrough’s entry is amplified this year, as his 2007 submission was inadvertently omitted from the last issue of PAN PIPES.

Stephen Yarbrough received a 2006 State Arts Council Artist’s Project Grant from the South Dakota Arts Council, for which he wrote Dakota Diary, an octet for flute, oboe, horn, string quartet, and piano. Commissions currently in progress include a twenty-minute song cycle for mezzo-soprano and full orchestra, for Emily Lodine with the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra, with movements based on the poems of Jane Kenyon; and a major work commemorating the 75th anniversary of Mount Mary College in Yankton, SD (underwritten by the Peter and Catherine McGovern family), which will be premiered during the festivities at the college in 2009. A recording of And You Shall Be, for oboe, horn, cello, mezzo-soprano, baritone, and harp, was played December 12, 2006, St Paul’s Episcopal Church, Vermillion, SD, during the celebration of the wedding anniversary of Stephen and Janis Yarbrough (SAI Sword of Honor, University of OK), the Rev. Mercy Hobbs, Vicar, officiating. Prairie Triptych for full orchestra was broadcast on KCSC FM’s “The Composer Next Door” with host Rob Deemer, May 13, 2007, Central State University, Edmond OK. In January 2007, the composer established Sycamore Press for the release of all his original scores. Yarbrough’s compositions are currently published by Kjos, TRN Music, National Music Publishers, and Sycamore Press. For additional information, contact him at


Emily Lodine, Scott Piper, and the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra conducted by Henry Charles Smith introduced A Christmas Hymn (text Richard Wilbur), a duet for mezzo-soprano and tenor with orchestra. Delta David Gier conducted the premiere of A Little Suite for Strings, for chamber orchestra, by the South Dakota Symphony Chamber Orchestra (SDSO), Sioux Falls, on March 24, 2006; this piece was performed during the SDSO tour through March 26. Suite Sioux Falls, for full orchestra, was first presented July 4 by the SDSO with guest conductor Matthew Savery, for the Sioux Falls Sesquicentennial. Organist Robert Horton introduced Fantasy for Organ and Orchestra on April 24, 2007, assisted by the North West Iowa Symphony Orchestra conducted by Henry Duitman, Sioux Center, IA. Elizabeth Heinrichs and Norma Heinrichs premiered Hills of the Prairie, for violin and piano, July 28, 2007, University of SD; the work was later performed by Karen Lipp and Janis Yarbrough on September 16, at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Vermillion, SD.


The Nevada All-State Orchestra, conducted by William LaRue Jones, performed With a Voice of Joy and Praise, for full orchestra during April 2006. A Little Suite for Strings, for chamber orchestra, received performances April 18, University of South Dakota Orchestra, led by John Thompson; December 16, Dakota Academy of the Performing Arts, conducted by Ray Sidoti, Belbas Theater, Sioux Falls; and May 6, 2007, Salina (KS) Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Ken Hakoda. Pastorale for violin and piano, was heard May 7, in a performance by Karen Lipp and Lisa Swanson, St Paul’s Episcopal Church, Vermillion, SD; and on September 6 and 12 by flutist Stephanie Kocher, flute, USD Recital Series. Come, My Light, for choir and piano, was performed by the University of South Dakota Chamber Singers led by Matthew Harden, on May 12, at the United Church of Christ; May 13, at the USD Graduation, Dakota Dome; and May 3, 2007, at Colton Hall. The SDSO performed Angel’s Dances, for full orchestra, August 17 and September 4, under the direction of Delta David Gier, during a South Dakota PBS Interview, on South Dakota Public Broadcasting. A recording of Behold the Tabernacle of God, for choir, tracker organ and brass, was played during the dedication of 10 stained glass windows, October 28, at St Paul’s Episcopal Church, Vermillion, SD. Advent Antiphon, for congregation and keyboards, was heard during November-December, also at St. Paul’s. The Montana All-State Orchestra, led by William LaRue Jones, included With the Voice of Joy and Praise, for full orchestra, in an October 19 concert, Billings, MT.


A Christmas Hymn (text Richard Wilbur), mezzo-soprano, tenor, full orchestra; Suite Sioux Falls, full orchestra; A Little Suite for Strings, chamber orchestra; Fantasy for Organ and Orchestra; Hills of the Prairie, violin and piano; all by Sycamore Press, Vermillion, SD.


Alleluias for Orchestra, CD containing 17 of the composer’s most requested works. Prairie Triptych, full orchestra, complete work broadcast on KCSC FM’s “The Composer Next Door,” host Rob Deemer, May 13, 2007, Central State University, Edmond OK.


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