"Kay Stephen on violin and viola was especially outstanding technically."
"Kay Stephen was a star turn with her quite wonderful contribution."
- Classical Source, Wigmore Hall review
"Jacquin Trio's thrilling recital proves potency of the viola to Whangerei audience."
- Seen and Heard International
"Ms. Stephen's playing captured my full attention right from the beginning."
Scottish violist and violinist Kay Stephen is passionate about ensemble playing in all of its forms, and loves the spontaneity and communication of making music with others.
As a chamber musician, she has been a recipient of numerous awards including the Royal Overseas League Chamber Music Prize and the Audience Engagement Prize at the Franz Schubert and Modern Music Competition, Graz. She has been supported by the City Music Foundation, the Tunnell Trust and twice by the Park Lane Group, performing regularly at major UK venues including Manchester's Bridgewater Hall, the Wigmore Hall, the Cadogan Hall and frequently on BBC Radio 3.
Kay is a member of the Jacquin Trio, alongside clarinettist Jessie Grimes and pianist Charis Hanning. With a line up that allows them the rare freedom of music for both violin and viola trio in a single concert, they have a vast and varied repertoire at their fingertips; from works by Mozart and Kurtag to Stravinsky’s virtuosic violin writing in The Soldier’s Tale or Bartok’s Contrasts. The trio have performed together all over the world, most recently touring New Zealand and making their debut at Manchester's Bridgewater Hall.
Concerto performances have included first viola in Brandenburg 6, under the baton of Nicholas Kremer, and Bosso's 'Within the Golden Hour', both with the Manchester Camerata; Telemann Viola Concerto at St. Martin-in-the-Fields, and violin concertos by Brahms, Mozart and Joe Cutler.
For nearly ten years, Kay was violist with the award winning Gildas Quartet, performing with them world wide throughout China, South Africa and Australia, among others and recording for Champs Hill.
She has performed with ensembles such as the Consone, Elias, Navarra, and Edinburgh quartets, and the Manchester Collective, the Vonnegut Collective, Ensemble Deva and Red Note Ensemble. Formerly co-principal viola with the Manchester Camerata, she appeared many times as principal and as soloist with the orchestra.
She has been invited as guest principal viola with the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Camerata Alma Viva, as co-principal with the BBC Philharmonic, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, the City of London Sinfonia and the Britten Sinfonia, and as a freelance player with the Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields and the Aurora Orchestra. She also performs as violinist with orchestras such as the London Contemporary Orchestra, the Royal Northern Sinfonia, the Hallé and the Gabrieli Consort.
In 2020 she recorded works for piano quintet and sextet by Thomas Adès and Tullis Rennie with the Vonnegut Collective. The disc was described as: "Savagely elegant, approachable – and wholly satisfying," in BBC Music Magazine.
Through a long time musical collaboration with clarinettist and composer Jack McNeill, Kay joined twelve piece cross-genre ensemble, Propellor for their residency at Snape Maltings. The band has gone on to perform at some of the country's most prestigious music festivals, released their debut album, Loom, and recorded a podcast for release in the near future.
As a teacher, Kay is thrilled to have been invited to curate the chamber music strand of the incredible Aldeburgh Young Musicians programme. This has involved devising and leading residential courses at Snape Maltings, and more recently coordinating a month long online project during the Covid 19 lockdown.