Mark Simpson gives world premiere of his Clarinet Concerto with Ben Gernon & the BBC Philharmonic
Mark Simpson joins Ben Gernon and the BBC Philharmonic at Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall on 15 June 2019 to give the world premiere of his Clarinet Concerto. The premiere is part of Simpson’s tenure as the orchestra’s Composer in Association, a creative partnership that has run since 2015 and last season featured the critically acclaimed world premiere of his Cello Concerto:
“Immediately compelling and mysterious... Simpson has the precious knack of making relatively conventional gestures seem totally original and he uses a fundamentally tonal language in an utterly distinctive, never derivative way, so that nothing is ever quite what it seems.”
Guardian, April 2018
The concert also marks the BBC Philharmonic's season finale. Gernon, the orchestra’s Principal Guest Conductor, opens the concert with a selection of arias from Mozart Idomeneo with soprano Elizabeth Watts. Watts returns after the interval as Gernon brings the curtain down on the orchestra's season with Mahler’s soulful but uplifting Symphony No.4.
Elsewhere in June, Gernon gives his debut with the Brussels Philharmonic Orchestra with a performance at their studio on 30 June. He is joined by pianist Luis Fernando Pérez for De Falla Nights in the Gardens of Spain, while the dance-themed programme further features Marquez Danzon No.2 and Ginastera Estancia, Op. 8.
Mark Simpson’s The Immortal receives US premiere at Cincinnati May Festival
The Cincinnati May Festival presents the US premiere of Mark Simpson’s “blazingly original” (Guardian) oratorio The Immortal on 17 May 2019. The performance is given by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, May Festival Chorus, baritone Rod Gilfry and vocal ensemble Roomful of Teeth, all under the direction of Juanjo Mena.
The Immortal features a text by Melanie Challenger and takes its title and inspiration from The Immortalization Commission by British philosopher John Gray, which focuses on the hidden world of Victorian seances and the Society for Physical Research. At the heart of The Immortal is the story of Frederic Myers, one of the founder members of the Society, whose childhood sweetheart Annie Marshal had committed suicide in her early 20s.
The Immortal won the South Bank Sky Arts Award for Classical Music in 2016 and was described by the Times as “the best new choral work I’ve heard in years”. It was premiered by the BBC Philharmonic at the Manchester International Festival in 2015.
"I have to suffer to the point where I can no longer take it, and then I allow myself to write…”: Mark Simpson interviewed in BBC Music Magazine
The fascinating interview gives a glimpse into the creative and psychological process of writing new music, covering subjects ranging from the state of classical music today, the sources of Simpson’s compositional inspiration and the soul-searching questions that he asks himself before starting each new work.
Read an extract below:
“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.”
Simpson also covers his forthcoming Clarinet Concerto, which marks the first time Simpson has written himself into one of his orchestral pieces:
“I didn’t want to write something that was virtuosic for the sake of being virtuosic. It’s not going to be flashy... I’m trying to tap into that more expressive place.”
Simpson gives the world premiere of the concerto with the BBC Philharmonic and Ben Gernon on 15 June. Simpson has been the orchestra’s Composer in Association since 2015, and the Clarinet Concerto is the second of Simpson’s concertos to be premiered by the orchestra following his Cello Concerto last season.
The full interview appears in the May issue of BBC Music Magazine. Pick up your copy in all good newsagents today.
Mark Simpson launches residency at BBC Radio 3's Big Chamber Weekend
Mark Simpson is in residence at Saffron Hall this month for BBC Radio 3's Big Chamber Weekend, performing alongside several guest stars in three concerts on 26 and 27 April 2019. Simpson is joined for the weekend by long-standing musical partners Richard Uttley, Leonard Elschenbroich, Adam Newman, Simon Höfele and the Navarra Quartet.
Over the course of the weekend they perform eclectic programmes of music ranging from Schumann to Kurtág and from Ireland to Simpson’s own music, including the premiere of his new work for the closing concert.
The concerts will be recorded for broadcast on BBC Radio 3 the following week. Click here for more information.
Mark Simpson curates concerts with the Orquestra Sinfónica Portuguesa
Mark Simpson makes his debut with the Orquestra Sinfónica Portuguesa on 26 January 2019 at the Teatro Nacional de São Carlos in Lisbon.
Simpson presents a programme especially curated by himself, which sees him direct both Fátima Fonte Sul and Tchaikovsky's 'Mozartiana' Suite, and also appear as soloist in Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto.
Mark Simpson is Artist in Residence at the Lammermuir Festival
Mark Simpson is Artist in Residence at the Lammermuir Festival this month, which begins on 16 September 2018. For the first concert of his residency, Simpson performs the Nielsen Clarinet Concerto with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and Cristian Măcelaru at St Mary's Collegiate Church in Haddington, following three prior performances with the orchestra and Măcelaru throughout Scotland.
The second concert on 19 September includes performances of two of Simpson’s compositions, Nur Musik and Straw Dogs, by the Red Note Ensemble. The concert also features Simpson performing as clarinet soloist in John Adams Gnarly Buttons.
Simpson concludes his residency on 22 September, directing the SCO wind players in both Mozart’s 'Gran Partita' for 13 Winds, as well as in his own composition for the same instrumentation, Geysir, his very own tribute to the Mozart.
"A revelation": Mark Simpson at the BBC Proms
Mark Simpson’s "death-defying" performance of the Lindberg Clarinet Concerto at the BBC Proms on 16 July has received outstanding critical acclaim. Performing alongside the BBC Philharmonic and their outgoing Chief Conductor, Simpson “proved to be something of a revelation in the concerto” and the critics have described him as “the Paganini of the Clarinet”:
“The brilliant clarinettist Mark Simpson… was the soloist in Magnus Lindberg’s scintillatingly melodic Clarinet Concerto – a standout performance, rapturously received.”
Guardian, July 2018
“Clarinettist Mark Simpson proved to be something of a revelation in the [Lindberg] concerto… If ever there were a man who could reasonably claim to be the Paganini of the Clarinet, then Simpson might be just the man…. There appeared at times to be nothing that this hugely talented soloist could not do – in particular, the solo near the end of the concerto was quite unlike anything I’ve ever seen on a classical music stage before.... Highly impressive.”
Bachtrack, July 2018
“Mark Simpson's death-defying performance went for the jugular and the stratospheric. Nothing was moderated, from murmurs to elation to extended techniques. His interplay with the first-clarinet chair, his cadenzas, his range of dynamics and timbres, now sweet now piercing, his ability to ride the biggest tuttis, delivery perfect, not a note stretched or cracked, his tension building, ran the gamut from poetry to pulverisation.”
Classical Source, July 2018
“Simpson captured the spontaneity of the music, finding the lyricism in the broader passages, and the wit in the fantastic cadenza towards the end. His control of the tremolandos, wild glissandos and vocal multiphonics was thrilling, but never meretricious… At the final big climax Simpson, felt fully in control of the hall, and in possession of the piece in his own right. He is a fine composer, but perhaps an even better clarinettist… ”
The Arts Desk, July 2018
Click here to listen to the performance on the BBC iPlayer.
Intermusica at the 2018 BBC Proms
The BBC Proms returns this year on 13 July 2018, and as ever there is a strong Intermusica presence at the festival. This year sees returns for artists including Marin Alsop, Sir John Eliot Gardiner, John Wilson, Colin Currie and Antoine Tamestit, while Intermusica also brings the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia and the Baltimore Symphony to the festival as part of the Proms' celebrations of the centenary of Leonard Bernstein's birth. All concerts are broadcast live on BBC Radio 3.
On 15 July at 7pm, Colin Currie and Martin James Bartlett join an array of previous winners and finalists for a concert celebrating the 40th anniversary of BBC Young Musician. Currie performs Steve Reich Drumming – Part I with Colin Currie Group members and fellow BBC Young Musician competitors Sam Walton, Aiden Spillet and Owen Gunnell, while Martin James Bartlett performs in Saint-Saëns Carnival of the Animals.
Susan Bickley renews her relationship with the London Sinfonietta and Sir George Benjamin at 3pm on 21 July in a Prom at the Roundhouse in Camden. Bickley performs in a programme featuring a quartet of war-themed premieres as well as works by Stravinsky, Messiaen and Ives.
Simon Halsey leads the BBC Proms Youth Choir once again this year in concert with Donald Runnicles and the World Orchestra for Peace at 7.30pm on 21 July. They perform Shadow, a new, First World War-themed commission from Latvian composer Ēriks Ešenvalds. Also on the programme are Britten Sinfonia da Requiem and Beethoven Symphony No.9. Halsey returns in August for concerts with the London Symphony Chorus and Orchestra under Sir Simon Rattle and in September with the City of Birmingham Symphony Choruses with Andris Nelsons and the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
On 25 July, Ben Gernon returns to the Proms with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra. Gernon, the orchestra’s Principal Guest Conductor, leads the BBC Philharmonic in the world premiere of Tansy Davies What did We See?, an orchestral suite from the composer’s recent opera Between Worlds. He also conducts Beethoven Piano Concerto No.5 ‘Emperor’ with soloist Paul Lewis and Brahms Symphony No.2. The concert starts at 7.30pm.
Martyn Brabbins conducts the BBC National Orchestra and Chorus of Wales in a programme celebrating English composer Hubert Parry at 7pm on 27 July. Brabbins conducts Parry’s Symphony No.5 and Hear my words, ye people! alongside works by his pupils Vaughan Williams and Holst. Tai Murray is the soloist in Vaughan Williams The Lark Ascending, while soprano Francesca Chiejina and bass-baritone Ashley Riches also feature.
Andrew Manze returns this year alongside the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, conducting the orchestra in a London-focussed programme at 7pm on 31 July. The concert opens with Haydn Symphony No.104 ‘London’, and after the interval Manze conducts Vaughan Williams A London Symphony.
On 5 August, Brett Dean joins Thomas Dausgaard and the Swedish Chamber Orchestra for their Brandenburg Project. Over two concerts, the orchestra presents Bach’s six Brandenburg Concertos alongside six newly commissioned companion works. Dean performs as viola soloist in the second concert at 7.30pm, while his Approach – Prelude to a Canon is one of the companion works.
Nicholas Collon and his Aurora Orchestra make their annual appearance in a late-night Prom focussing on Shostakovich at 10.15pm on 6 August. Joined once again by BBC broadcaster Tom Service, Collon and the Orchestra unpack the composer’s Symphony No.9 before performing it from memory. The concert also features Shostakovich Piano Concerto No.2 with soloist Denis Kozhukhin.
Intermusica renews its relationship with the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia and Sir Antonio Pappano at 7.30pm on 10 August, bringing them to the Proms as part of the festival's celebrations for the Bernstein centenary (Bernstein was the orchestra's honorary conductor for a decade). Pappano conducts the composer's Symphony No.1 'Jeremiah' alongside Haydn The Creation - Chaos and Mahler Symphony No.1.
Renaud Capuçon appears at the Proms at 7pm on 16 August alongside the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande in its debut appearance at the festival. Capuçon is the soloist for Ravel Violin Sonata No.2, which has been orchestrated by Yan Maresz.
Marin Alsop conducts the Proms Scratch Orchestra in two free concerts at Maida Vale Studios on 26 August. The Scratch Orchestra, made up of amateur musicians and members of the BBC Concert Orchestra, performs movements from Shostakovich Symphony No.5.
Joshua Weilerstein returns to the Proms at 7.30pm on 26 August to conduct the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in a tribute to Leonard Bernstein’s televised Young People’s Concerts. Utilizing words, projections and music, the concert features works including Stravinsky The Rite of Spring, Ligeti Apparations and Debussy La mer alongside works by Bernstein and Beethoven.
Wallis Giunta makes her Proms debut at 1pm on 27 August, leading a recital of works by Bernstein and his associates at Cadogan Hall. As well as works by Copland, Sondheim and Barber, the concert features the world premiere of a new song by British composer Bushra El-Turk, Crème Brûlée on a Tree, inspired by Bernstein’s recipe settings.
Marin Alsop returns to the Proms at 8pm on 27 August as Intermusica brings the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra to the festival for a concert of Bernstein and Shostakovich with pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet.
Sir John Eliot Gardiner and the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique return to the Proms at 7.30pm on 5 September for a programme of Berlioz. They are joined by Antoine Tamestit, who performs Harold in Italy, while Joyce DiDonato sings arias from Le mort de Cléopatre and Les Troyens.
Russell Braun joins the Royal Scottish National Orchestra under Peter Oundjian at 7pm on 6 September as the baritone soloist in Britten War Requiem. Braun performs alongside Erin Wall and Allan Clayton.
Mark Simpson performs Magnus Lindberg's Clarinet Concerto at the BBC Proms
Mark Simpson returns to the BBC Proms on 16 July 2018 as the soloist in Magnus Lindberg Clarinet Concerto. Simpson is accompanied for the concerto by the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra and their Chief Conductor, Juanjo Mena.
Simpson is the BBC Philharmonic's Composer in Association, with their most recent collaboration coming in April when the orchestra gave the world premiere of his Cello Concerto with soloist Leonard Elschenbroich. Mena also conducted the orchestra in Simpson's oratorio The Immortal at last season's Proms.
Simpson also appeared as a soloist in 2015, when he joined the BBC Symphony Orchestra to perform Nielsen Clarinet Concerto under the baton of Sir Andrew Davis. Watch an extract from the performance below.
"Irresistible": Mark Simpson's Cello Concerto met with critical acclaim
Mark Simpson's cello concerto was premiered by the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra and Leonard Elschenbroich on 21 April 2018, part of Simpson's four-year tenure as the orchestra's Composer in Association. The concerto was greeted with great praise from the music press:
“The premiere of Mark Simpson’s concerto… confirmed him as one of the UK’s most exciting young talents… it is both immediately compelling and mysterious at the same time, for Simpson has the precious knack of making relatively conventional gestures seem totally original and he uses a fundamentally tonal language in an utterly distinctive, never derivative way, so that nothing is ever quite what it seems.”
Guardian, April 2018
“There’s plenty of Simpson’s usual post-serial parade: music airborne, kaleidoscopic, swirling with life. This is a contemporary piece with a pulsing heart and I found it irresistible.”
Times, April 2018
“The bravura, the assurance and the sheer generosity of this music is unarguable… it’s gorgeous.”
Spectator, April 2018
Danielle de Niese & Mark Simpson perform at the Queen Elizabeth Hall as part of the International Chamber Music Series
Danielle de Niese and Mark Simpson join Sir James Galway, Menahem Pressler and the Navarra String Quartet in concert at the newly reopened Queen Elizabeth Hall on 27 April 2018. Part of the Intermusica co-promoted International Chamber Music Series, the concert features a programme of music by Roussel, Schubert and Chausson.
Other upcoming highlights for De Niese include a return to Wiener Staatsoper as Norina Don Pasquale and her role debut as Musetta at the Royal Opera House. Next season she reprises Musetta at the Chicago Lyric Opera and makes her debut at La Monnaie as Norina Don Pasquale. Meanwhile, Simpson's appearance comes soon after the world premiere of his Cello Concerto, which is given by Leonard Elschenbroich and the BBC Philharmonic on 21 April.
The International Chamber Music Series returns on 11 May with Ligeti's Horn Trio.
Mark Simpson's cello concerto receives world premiere from Leonard Elschenbroich & the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra
Mark Simpson's Cello Concerto receives its world premiere at Manchester's Bridgewater Hall on 21 April 2018. Leonard Elschenbroich is the soloist and is accompanied by the BBC Philharmonic under the baton of Clemens Schuldt. Simpson previews the piece in a pre-concert talk, which is presented by Simon Webb.
Simpson is the BBC Philharmonic's Composer in Association, and their partnership has included a performance of Simon Holt's clarinet concerto, Joy Beast, at the Hull New Music Biennale in 2017 and the world premiere of Simpson's The Immortal:
“Despite its arcane and morbid subject, Mark Simpson’s oratorio The Immortal is the most thrilling new choral work I have heard for years. With this piece, he and his librettist 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... Simpson’s multilayered, swirling score, superbly realised by the BBC Philharmonic under Juanjo Mena, transcends these specifics to evoke the philosophical turmoil of humanity in general as we cling to such concepts as love, soul and immortality when the cold materialism of modern science suggests that such things are tricks of the sentimental mind.”
Times, October 2015
Brett Dean conducts and performs with the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra & Mark Simpson
Brett Dean travels to Dublin this January for two performances with the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra on 16 and 19 January 2018. In the first, Dean conducts the orchestra and fellow Intermusica artist Mark Simpson in a performance of his clarinet concerto, Ariel’s Music, which won an award from the UNESCO International Rostrum of Composers. The programme is completed by Ed Bennet Freefalling.
Dean rejoins the orchestra on 19 January to perform the Irish premiere of his Viola Concerto under the baton of Olari Elts. Dean’s performances of his Viola Concerto have earned critical appraisal over the decade since its premiere in 2005:
"Dean has written something as personal as one would expect. The haunting and arresting sounds are all his own, and bright colours suggest a strong connection to his country’s landscape. Indeed, the peaceful close, in which the previously hectic solo viola emerges purified, evokes a lullaby in which the earth seems to be singing itself to sleep."
Mark Simpson debuts at the Little Missinden Festival with Richard Uttley
Mark Simpson makes his debut at the Little Missenden Festival on 16 October 2017. Performing alongside Richard Uttley at the St John the Baptist Church, his programme includes the Finzi Bagatelles, Simpson's own Echoes and Embers, Ireland Fantasy-Sonata for Clarinet and Piano, Bliss Pastoral and Howells Sonata for Clarinet in A major.
Elsewhere this month, Simpson and Uttley perform the same programme at the Cedar Hall in Wells and also give a recital at Royal Holloway University.
Looking further ahead, Simpson performs with the Pixels Ensemble in Leeds and his hometown of Liverpool, and later in the season at the Southbank Centre's International Chamber Music Series.
Mark Simpson joins Intermusica
Intermusica is delighted to announce the signing of clarinettist and conductor Mark Simpson.
Mark Simpson has established himself as a major new voice on the international stage. 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.
Simpson performs worldwide as a clarinettist, both as a soloist and chamber musician. Recent highlights include the Nielsen Concerto at the BBC Proms, the Lindberg Concerto with the BBC Philharmonic, as well as appearances at the Cologne Philharmonie, Salzburg, Edinburgh International and Aldeburgh Festivals with artists including Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Isabelle Faust and Antoine Tamestit. He has appeared with orchestras including the Mozarteum Salzburg, BBC Symphony, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, BBC Philharmonic and BBC National Orchestra of Wales with conductors including Juanjo Mena, Vasily Petrenko, Gianandrea Noseda, Sakari Oramo, Andrew Davis, Yan Pascal Tortelier, Baldur Brönnimann, HK Gruber and Martyn Brabbins.
As a composer, Simpson’s most recent orchestral work The Immortal, an oratorio for baritone, chorus and symphony orchestra, was premiered by the BBC Philharmonic and Juanjo Mena at the 2015 Manchester International Festival. The Immortal won the South Bank Sky Arts Award for Classical Music in 2016 and will be performed at the BBC Proms on 27 July 2017. You can read on the Times website Richard Morrison’s recent profile piece on Simpson and tonight’s London premiere of The Immortal. 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. Simpson’s first opera Pleasure, with a libretto by Melanie Challenger, was commissioned by Opera North, the Royal Opera and Aldeburgh Music and has been performed in London, Aldeburgh, Liverpool and Leeds. In 2015, Simpson was appointed Composer in Association at the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra for a period of four years.
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. Simpson was a BBC New Generation Artist from 2012-2014, 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.
Intermusica represents Mark Simpson worldwide as a clarinettist and conductor. Simpson's compositions are published by Boosey and Hawkes.
Mark Simpson's The Immortal performed at the BBC Proms by the BBC Philharmonic
This year’s BBC Proms again features music written by Mark Simpson, as the BBC Philharmonic and Chief Conductor Juanjo Mena perform his oratorio The Immortal on 27 July 2017.
Mena and the orchestra gave the world premiere performance of the work at the Manchester International Festival and has since received huge critical acclaim:
"The best new choral work I’ve heard in years
In July 2016 The Immortal won the South Bank Sky Arts Award for Classical Music.
Mark Simpson premieres Simon Holt’s Joy Beast with Martyn Brabbins at the New Music Biennial
Mark Simpson joins Martyn Brabbins and the BBC Philharmonic at the PRS Foundation's New Music Biennial on 30 June 2017 to give the world premiere of Simon Holt's Joy Beast. The new work, a basset clarinet concerto, is inspired by a black and white print by Cecil Collins depicting a rampant bull-like creature with fearsome horns. This year, the New Music Biennial takes place in Hull, the UK’s 2017 City of Culture.
Simpson then takes Joy Beast to the Royal Festival Hall on 9 July, this time with the BBC Concert Orchestra under the baton of André de Ridder.
Simpson’s own music is also showcased in Hull and in London: the Gould Piano Trio give the world premiere of his new trio, After Avedon, inspired by an exhibition of Richard Avedon’s photographs.