Stephen Nicholls was born in Cork in 1985. His musical life began learning violin in the Cork School of Music and singing in St FinBarre's Cathedral. At 10 he started horn lessons with Sean Clinch in the Cork School of Music. In the following years he would win numerous prizes in Feis Maitheu and Feis Ceol competitions and was a proud member of the Cork and National Youth Orchestras.

In 2003 he moved to London to study at the Guildhall with Jeffery Bryant and later Hugh Seenen and Richard Bissil. From 2005-7 he toured extensively with the European Union Youth Orchestra, playing under Bernard Haitink, Vladimir Ashkenazy and Sir John Elliott Gardener.

In 2008 Stephen was awarded the 2nd horn position in the Irish Chamber Orchestra, with whom he performs across Ireland and undertakes regular tours across Europe and the United States. Alongside this he continues to freelance in the UK, recent appearance including playing Guest Principal Horn with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, and Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra.