A native of York, Pennsylvania, Stephen Kimmons discovered a love of music early on. He began studying the piano at age six and the horn at age nine. Although his interest in piano waned (a decision he regrets to this day), he excelled as a horn player - and served as principal horn in both band and orchestra throughout his scholastic career, as well as with the York Junior Youth Symphony, the York City Band, and the York Youth Symphony. In his senior year, he was featured as soloist and student conductor with the York Youth Symphony, and as pit orchestra conductor for York Suburban High School's production of No, No, Nanette!
Steve attended Ithaca College in Ithaca, New York, where he earned a Bachelor of Music in Applied Music and Music Education. During his time at Ithaca, he spent a semester in London, England, where he studied horn with Alan Civil of the Royal College of Music and principal horn with the BBC Symphony Orchestra. In addition to private horn study with John Covert at Ithaca, he also studied conducting with Pamela Gearhart, the conductor of the Ithaca College Orchestra. Steve considers "Mrs. G" to be his greatest influence as a conductor.
It was also during his years in college when Steve discovered his love for community bands, serving as principal horn in both the New Holland Band and the Bainbridge Band in Pennsylvania during the Bicentennial Summer of 1976.
Steve's first job after graduation from Ithaca College was at Parkdale High School in Prince George's County, Maryland, where he served as Director of Bands. His bands consistently scored superior or excellent ratings in the yearly PG County Band Festival during his five-year tenure at Parkdale.
While in Maryland, Steve continued his study on the horn with Robert Pierce, horn professor at Peabody Conservatory and principal horn with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Bob Pierce was the other major musical influence on Steve's life. He taught Steve the value of musical phrasing, and the ability to make music with even the most pedestrian of études.
Steve served for four years as principal horn of the Prince George's Philharmonic and the Prince George's County Opera. It was also during this time that Steve renewed his love for community bands. He founded the New Carrollton Band and served as its musical director and chairman of its governing board.
With support for music in the public schools being reduced, Steve decided to audition for one of the service bands in nearby Washington, DC. Despite his interest in playing, the opening that caught his eye was that of Band Officer in the United States Air Force. The daylong audition involved over seventy-five candidates, and Steve was one of four chosen. He entered the Air Force the following summer, and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant after graduating from Officer Training School.
His six-year career in the United States Air Force included assignments as Deputy Commander and Associate Conductor of the Strategic Air Command Band, Offutt Air Force Base, near Omaha, Nebraska; and Commander and Conductor of the Eighth Air Force Band, Barksdale Air Force Base, near Shreveport, Louisiana. During his four years at Barksdale, he had command responsibility for a 35-member squadron that presented 1,568 performances to an audience of well over 4,000,000 in 21 states, Great Britain, and Wales, and rose to the rank of Captain. While in Louisiana, Steve earned a
Master of Arts in Human Relations and Supervision from Louisiana Tech University. On his last day in uniform, he was privileged to guest conduct the Shreveport Metropolitan Concert Band in concert.
The decision to resign his commission and leave the Air Force also brought to an end Steve's eleven-year professional career in music. Responding to an appeal from his alma mater Ithaca College, he applied for and was named the Director of Alumni Relations, a position he held for eight years. His career in alumni relations extended for a total of fifteen years, and included positions at Franklin & Marshall College, The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, and Fairleigh Dickinson University.
For the past nine years, Steve has served as a professional fundraiser, working for a variety of organizations. His current position is Director of Development for the American Theater Group in Rahway, New Jersey. He also serves as Vice President of his wife Ruth's company Things 4 Strings, LLC. Since 2009, Things 4 Strings® patented bow hold accessories aid in teaching beginning violinists, violists, and cellists to hold the bow correctly - and have been sold in all fifty states and close to sixty countries worldwide.
Despite leaving music as a profession, Steve has continued to perform as a conductor and on the horn. He has played in the Chatham Community Band and the Metropolitan Orchestra of New Jersey, and is currently a member of the Summit Symphony Orchestra. And he has guest conducted such diverse ensembles as the Franklin & Marshall College Blue and White Singers, the Archbishop Molloy High School Band, the Chatham Community Band, and, on three separate occasions, the Air Force Band of Liberty, formerly from Hanscom Air Force Base in Massachusetts.
Steve resides in West Orange, New Jersey with his wife Ruth, a Suzuki instructor on both violin and viola; and their daughters Rozie and Emily. Rozie is a Viola Performance major at Montclair State University. Emily is an Early Childhood Education major at the County College of Morris. A prominent feature in their home is Steve's growing collection of vintage brass instruments and community band photographs.