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Mark Simpson

Artist in Focus, Kings Place

  • Mark Simpson has now established himself as a major figure in the contemporary music world, hailed as a “revelation” (Bachtrack) and “standout” (Guardian). As a performer and composer, he is committed to new music and his compositions have been performed at the BBC Proms, Salzburg and Edinburgh International Festivals, Royal Festival Hall, Wigmore Hall and Barbican Centre London, amongst others.

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  • Simpson performs worldwide as a clarinettist, both as a concerto soloist and chamber musician. Recent concerto highlights include the World Premiere of his own Clarinet Concerto with the BBC Philharmonic at the Bridgewater Hall, the Lindberg Concerto with the BBC Philharmonic at the BBC Proms, the Nielsen Concerto with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. He has also appeared with orchestras including the Mozarteum Salzburg, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, BBC National Orchestra of Wales and Royal Northern Sinfonia, collaborating with conductors including Martyn Brabbins, Baldur Brönnimann, Sir Andrew Davis, Ben Gernon, HK Gruber, Cristian Măcelaru, Juanjo Mena, Gianandrea Noseda, Sakari Oramo, Vasily Petrenko, Clemens Schuldt and Yan Pascal Tortelier. In 2015, Simpson was appointed Composer in Association at the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, a creative partnership that is in place for a period of four years.

    As a recitalist and chamber musician, he regularly performs at venues including the Wigmore Hall, Royal Festival Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Cologne Philharmonie, as well as at festivals including Salzburg, Edinburgh International, Aldeburgh, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, BeethovenFest and Reykjavik Midsummer Music, with premieres of works by Simon Holt, Jonathan Harvey and Edmund Finnis. His regular chamber partners include Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Isabelle Faust, Danielle de Niese, Vikingur Olafsson, Jean-Guihen Queyras and Antoine Tamestit. Recent chamber highlights have included an Artist Residency at Lammermuir Festival, a BBC Radio 3 Chamber Weekend at Saffron Hall curated by Simpson, and a play/direct performance with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic’s Ensemble 10/10, all of which included Simpson’s own compositions.

    As a composer Simpson’s most recent composition is his Violin Concerto which premieres in April 2022 and is performed by Nicola Benedetti with the London Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of Gianandrea Noseda. His recent Clarinet Concerto (2019) was discussed in a feature with BBC Music Magazine, giving a glimpse into the creative and psychological processes of writing new music: “It’s dark. It’s like a dark, deep expressive thing. It’s there, and I don’t know what it is, but it cries out with pain. That’s the emotional rawness I need before I even get going”. His Cello Concerto (2018), premiered by Leonard Elschenbroich with the BBC Philharmonic and Clemens Schuldt, was rapturously received and The Immortal (2015), an oratorio for baritone, chorus and symphony orchestra, was premiered by the BBC Philharmonic and Mena at the Manchester International Festival, with support from Sky Arts Futures Fund and IdeasTap. In July 2016 The Immortal won the South Bank Sky Arts Award for Classical Music and in spring 2019, the work received its North American premiere with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and Mena.

    Other orchestral works include Israfel (2014), premiered by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and Andrew Litton, sparks (2012), commissioned for the Last Night of the BBC Proms and A mirror-fragment… (2008), written for the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. Previous composing highlights include the premiere of Simpson’s first opera Pleasure, with a libretto by Melanie Challenger, commissioned by Opera North, the Royal Opera and Aldeburgh Music with performances in Leeds, Liverpool, Aldeburgh and London. Simpson’s trio for clarinet, piano and viola Hommage à Kurtág was commissioned by the Salzburg and Edinburgh International Festivals and in 2016 he gave the online premiere of Darkness Moves for solo clarinet, commissioned by the Borletti-Buitoni Trust.

    Born in Liverpool in 1988, Simpson became the first ever winner of both the BBC Young Musician of the Year and BBC Proms/Guardian Young Composer of the Year competitions in 2006. He went on to read Music at St. Catherine’s College, Oxford, graduating with first class honours, and studied composition with Julian Anderson at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama before being selected for representation by the Young Classical Artists Trust. Simpson was a BBC New Generation Artist from 2012-2014. He received a Borletti-Butoni Trust Fellowship in 2014 and the Royal Philharmonic Society Composition Award in 2010, and is a Visiting Fellow of Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford.

    Simpson’s first disc on NMC, Prism, featured him as performer; the second disc for NMC was released in 2016, featuring his own chamber and ensemble works including Night Music, a cello and piano piece written for Elschenbroich and premiered at the Wigmore Hall.

    Mark Simpson's compositions are published by Boosey & Hawkes.

    Mark plays on Peter Eaton International model clarinets since April 2004.

    2020-21 season / 770 words. Not to be edited without permission.

    Intermusica represents Mark Simpson worldwide.


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After Avedon (2017) 15’
Piano Trio

Cello Concerto (2016-2018) 24'
Cello and Orchestra

Clarinet Concerto (2019) 15'
Clarinet and Orchestra

Darkness Moves (2016) 10’
Clarinet solo

Hommage à Kurtág (2016) 8’
Clarinet, viola and piano

Pleasure (2016) 70’
Chamber opera

The Immortal (2015) 35’
Solo baritone, semi-chorus, optional large chorus and orchestra

Israfel (2014) 12’
Full orchestra

Night Music (2014) 15’
Cello and piano

Un Regalo (2014) 8’
Cello solo

Exile (2013) 8’
Chorus a cappella

Geysir (2013) 8’
Wind ensemble (12 wind instruments and double bass)

Salvator Mundi (2013) 5’
Chorus a cappella

Windflower (2013) 4’
Oboe/cor Anglais solo

Echoes and Embers (2012) 7’
Clarinet and piano

Flute Trio (2012) 18’
Flute trio

Sparks (2012) 4’
Full orchestra

Lethe (2011) 10’
Solo trombone and ensemble

Los Proverbios (2011) 18’
Piano and string ensemble

Straw Dogs (2010/11) 9’
Mixed ensemble (14 players)

Barkham Fantasy (2009/10) 7’
Piano solo

Ariel (2009) 18’
Basset clarinet, violin, cello and piano

A mirror-fragment... (2008) 11’
Full orchestra

Nur Musik (2008) 8’
Oboe/cor Anglais and orchestra

Threads (2007) 9’
Full orchestra

Lov(escape) (2006)
Clarinet and piano

Septet (2005) 10’

Concerto repertoire

John Adams
Gnarly Buttons

Prelude, Fugue & Riffs

Unsuk Chin
Clarinet Concerto

John Corigliano
Clarinet Concerto

Brett Dean
Ariel’s Music

Clarinet Concerto
Five Bagatelles (for clarinet and strings)

Dreams and Prayers of Isaac the Blind

Clarinet Concerto

Simon Holt
Joy Beast

Magnus Lindberg
Clarinet Concerto

James Macmillan

Clarinet Concerto

Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra

Mark-Anthony Turnage
Riffs and Refrains

Michel Van der Aa

Clarinet Concerto No.2


Martyn Brabbins
Baldur Brönnimann
Paul Daniel
Brett Dean
André de Ridder
Ben Gernon
Moritz Gnann
HK Gruber
Andrew Litton
Cristian Măcelaru
Juanjo Mena
Gianandrea Noseda
Sakari Oramo
Vasily Petrenko
Clemens Schuldt
Yan Pascal Tortelier

Sample Chamber Programmes

With piano & cello

Helmut Lachenmann: Dal niente
Helmut Lachenmann: Pression
Helmut Lachenmann: Guierro
Beethoven: Beethoven Clarinet Trio in B-Flat Major
Helmut Lachenmann: Allegro sostenuto

Beethoven: Beethoven Clarinet Trio in B-Flat Major
Mark Simpson: Night Music
Mark Simpson: Echoes and Embers
Mark Simpson: Barkham Fantasy
Brahms: Clarinet Trio

With viola & piano

Mozart: Keglstatt
Schumann: Märchenerzählungen
Kurtág: Homage á Schumann
Mark Simpson: Homage á Kurtág
Marco Stroppa: Homage á Kurtág

With string quartet

Mozart: Clarinet Quintet
Mark Simpson: Clarinet Quintet
Brahms: Clarinet Quintet

Thomas Adès: Catch
Mark Simpson: Ariel
Hindemith: Quartet
Messiaen: Quartet for the End of Time

Sample chamber orchestra programme

Mozart: Overture to La clemenza di Tito
Mozart: Clarinet Concerto
Mark Simpson: Mozart’s Third Brain
Mozart: Symphony No.29

Simpson proved to be something of a revelation in the [Lindberg] concerto…there appeared at times to be nothing that this hugely talented soloist could not do.... Highly impressive.


[His] honeyed tone wove weightlessly in amongst them... his sound was velvety at the bottom and his control seemed effortless. Classy stuff.

Herald Tribune

The Immortal is the most thrilling new choral work I have heard for years. With this piece, he and his librettist [Melanie Challenger] match the grandeur of those epic avant-garde choral pieces produced half a century ago by the likes of Penderecki, Stockhausen and the young Tavener... I immediately wanted to hear it again.

The Times

Intermusica represents Mark Simpson worldwide.

Lucy Saunders
Senior Artist Manager (maternity leave)
+44 207 608 9936

Maebh Lehane
Artist Manager
+44 20 7608 9924

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All artists


Mark Simpson


HK Gruber


Tim Mead

Piano accompanist

Roger Vignoles