A Music Man

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Steven Michael Stern (Provided)
Steven Michael Stern (Provided)

The room was filled with posters and statues of Hollywood’s biggest and brightest names — the Iron Lady, the Three Stooges and the Dark Knight — but the name on everyone’s mind that night at the Pikes Theater was not Christian Bale or Meryl Streep,  it was Steven Michael Stern.

Stern, raised in Pikesville, loved music from a young age and never stopped playing until the day he passed away from cancer at 47.

Although he hadn’t lived in the area for more than 20 years, his friends organized two memorial events, one on May 12 in Pikesville and the other in Sherman Oaks, Calif., where Stern lived with his wife and two children until his untimely death last month.

“He just started picking up instruments and playing them by the time he was 9,” said Maureen Kessler, Stern’s cousin. “He must have played 20 instruments.”

After discovering a passion for music, Stern joined a band, Prophecy, as a teenager.

“I think [the band] was very important because a lot of people knew him,” said Stern’s father, Linas Richard Stern.

Prophecy quickly grew in popularity through winning multiple battles of the bands.

“They were the cool, cute guys who played in a band,” said Danielle Stettner, another of Stern’s cousins.

Stern attended Johns Hopkins University’s Peabody Conservatory and then the Berklee College of Music. After finishing school, he went on to compose with the world-renowned German film composer Hans Zimmer, under whose tutelage he helped to score films like “The Lion King,” “The Renaissance Man” and “I’ll Do Anything.” As the owner of Sternmusic/Catmandude Music he continued to score music for clients such as MGM, Fox Sports and CBS.

In 1999, Stern partnered with childhood friend Stuart Hart to create Selectracks Music Library.

“We’ve been friends since we were 10 years old,” said Hart. “He showed me my first guitar chords, and I ended up teaching him jazz proficiencies.”

Stern helped secure a deal to sell Selectracks to Bug Music, which was later acquired by APM Music. Immediately following both purchases, he was invited to serve as a senior vice president and vice president, respectively, for each company.

His last project, an APM custom music division called Resonate Music Group, boasts such credits such as “Lincoln,” the re-recording of the Baltimore Ravens’ fight song and “Hawaii Five-O. “

But one of Stern’s most notable accomplishments became the centerpiece of the memorial held at the Pikes. The celebration began with a video made by Allen Markow, a childhood friend and organizer of the event.

“Steven use to sit in his room and re-record scenes from videos with his own music,” said Markow.

The video Markow produced included pictures of Stern throughout his life with various family members and friends set to a background of music from Prophecy.

After watching the video, Stern’s friends did what he loved his entire life: They played music.

Stuart Keiser covered the song “Different Worlds,” originally co-written and produced by Stern. In 2012, the song reached No. 1 on the Australian iTunes charts after it was sung by a contestant on “The Voice Australia.”

Other performances at the Pikes included covers by Scott Lean and Scott Garfield, original members of the band Prophecy, Stuart Hart and Markow’s son, Alex, who performed Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine,” replacing the word “she” with “Steven.”

“He was our coast-to-coast music man,” said Kessler.

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