Stephen McNeff was born in 1951 in Northern Ireland and grew up in Wales. He studied composition at the Royal Academy of Music and undertook post-graduate work at the University of Exeter. He has previously been Composer in Residence at the Banff Centre in Canada for the newly-formed Music Theatre Ensemble, writing a number of works before becoming artistic director of Comus Music Theatre in Toronto. He won a Mavor Moore Award for his opera The Secret Garden and, on his return to Britain, he won a Scotsman Award at the Edinburgh Festival for his opera Aesop, written with his long-time collaborator, the Cornish poet Charles Causley.
In 2005 he became Composer in Residence with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and his new orchestration of Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande was nominated for an RPS Award. In 2004 he was shortlisted for a British Composer Award in the Stage Works category for Clockwork and later, in 2007, won in the Stage Works category for Tarka The Otter.
The Chalk Legend was commissioned by the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra as their contribution to the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad in Dorset. It was performed by the Bournemouth Symphony Chorus, a choir of primary school children from Dorset, the Dorset Youth Orchestra and and Kokoro, the BSO’s new music ensemble.
It had its world premiere on the 18 May 2012 at the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy.