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Directors Circle

Oct 30, 2019

This episode features Dr. Stephen Gage from Youngstown State University. In this interview, he shares his thoughts on a wide array of subjects ranging from imagination to repertoire selection. 


Topics include:

(04:33) Dr. Gage talks about his life and professional background

(07:30) Dr. Gage talks about his ensembles at YSU

(10:08)  Working with the legendary coach, Jim Tressel, as the YSU President

(14:45) Repertoire Selection

(27:24) Symphonic Repertoire

(36:12) Ways conductors can improve their craft

(46:03)  Budgeting time with a busy career 

(55:27)Building and maintaining relationships

(01:10:38) Favorite rehearsal tactics

(01:13:53) Why do we teach music? 

(01:20:57) Dr. Gage discusses leaders that have made an impact on his life 

(01:27:02) Advice for music educators



Gage’s YSU Site

Performances by Gage conducting: 

Up by Anthony O’Toole -

Symphony No. 4 by David Maslanka -



Stephen L. Gage has served as Professor of Conducting and Director of Bands & Orchestra at Youngstown State University's Dana School of Music since 1993. In fall 2014, Dr. Gage was appointed as the conductor of the YSU Dana Symphony Orchestra and he conducts the music school’s annual opera production orchestra in addition to his work with the YSU Wind Ensemble, the Dana Chamber Winds & Strings. Professor Gage leads the MM in Instrumental Conducting program and he has been the YSU Dana School Recruitment Coordinator for his entire residency on the faculty. Stephen holds degrees from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, the Eastman School of Music (University of Rochester), and the State University of New York at Fredonia where he also earned the Performers Certificate and was a concerto winner. Stephen studied conducting with Harry John Brown, Donald Hunsberger, David Effron, Roy Ernst, James Keene, Isaiah Jackson, H. Robert Reynolds, Randall Craig Fleischer, and Paul Vermel. In September 2012, Dr. Gage was appointed as the Conductor/Music Director of the W. D. Packard Concert Band in Warren. Stephen is in his 26th season as the Edward Zacharias Memorial Chair/Conductor of the Youngstown Symphony Youth Orchestra. Previous teaching positions include serving as Director of Bands & Orchestra at Emporia State University (KS) and as Director of Bands at Auburn High School (NY) from 1980-1989.


Professor Gage has written numerous published articles on conducting, rehearsal techniques, and wind band literature, and he is an active wind band and orchestral guest conductor, clinician, and adjudicator of international repute. Stephen has guest conducted and cliniced high school regional and all state honor bands and orchestras as well as a number of university wind bands and orchestras throughout the United States. In April 2017, Stephen Gage was the guest conductor for the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association (PMEA) All-State HS Symphony Orchestra in Erie, PA and he has had the privilege of guest conducting the Louisiana Music Educators Association (LMEA) All State HS Symphony Orchestra, the Florida Music Educators Association (FMEA) HS Symphonic Band, the West Virginia Music Educators Association (WVMEA) All-State HS Symphony Orchestra (three times), and the PMEA All-State HS Concert Band. His list of guest conducting appearances includes the Youngstown Symphony Orchestra, the U.S. Air Force Band & Singing Sergeants, the U.S. Army Band: “Pershing’s Own”, and the U.S. Army Field Band & Chorus among others. The list of guest conducting and clinics includes experiences in Canada, Ireland, and in 35 states. Dr. Gage has received critical acclaim from a number of distinguished composers, including a number of Pulitzer prize winners: Joseph Schwanter, Carter Pann, John Mackey, Samuel Adler, Karel Husa, Frank Ticheli, John Mackey, Michael Colgrass, Donald Grantham, D.J. Sparr, Jerry Ascione, Joel Puckett, Brian Balmages, Anthony O’Toole, and David Gillingham for his interpretation and recordings of their music.

Stephen’s professional affiliations include memberships in the CBDNA, NBA, OMEA/MENC, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, Kappa Delta Pi, Phi Beta Mu, Sigma Alpha Iota, and Phi Kappa Phi. Dr. Gage has been inducted into the prestigious American Bandmasters and was named as both Distinguished Professor and Faculty Mentor of the Year at YSU; he has served on the NBA Foundation Board of Directors and is currently on the Board of Directors for the Ohio Chapter of Phi Beta Mu. In 2012, Gage was awarded the Marty Manning Faculty Mentor Award at the University and in 2014 he gave a Last Lecture at YSU. In January 2018, Dr. Gage was honored in the first Auburn High School (NY) Music Hall of Fame. Stephen and the YSU Wind Ensemble made their historic NYC Carnegie Hall debut in 2005 and the band gave an encore performance in this venue in November 2015. The wind ensemble has released seven CD recordings and the sixth CD in this series, Urban Requiem, was released on the NAXOS International Recording Label in June 2009 and the seventh, Old Wine in New Bottles was released by NAXOS in August 2013. Both of these NAXOS recordings have earned critical praise from numerous critical reviewers and represented composers for their artistically convincing performances and musical and technical quality. YSU Wind Ensemble CD, Spin Cycle, won Downbeat Magazine’s University Symphonic Recording of the Year. There are two new YSU Wind Ensemble CD recordings that will be released during the 2018-2019 academic year.

Former YSU Dana School of Music alumni and students currently hold conducting positions in 13 university music schools across the country, and YSU Dana School of Music (DSOM) band and orchestra alumni have attended virtually all of America’s finest graduate music schools and conservatories. In addition, a number of former DSOM students are members of the premiere and regional U.S. military bands, are members of numerous professional symphony orchestras and chamber music ensembles, and hold elementary, middle, and high school music teaching positions across the country.

Stephen lives in Poland, Ohio with his wife, Stephanie, who has taught at the Dana School for thirteen years, and one of his three children, Brendan, a French horn and piano performance major at the Dana School and a YSU University Scholar. Daughter, Claudia, a YSU alum and former University Scholar, works as a resident-actress and lives in Connecticut; and Gage’s oldest son, Matthew, is in the coffee business, is a commercial guitar player,  and his 5-year old daughter, Zoey, live in Austin, TX.