Professor Simon Bainbridge


Composition - Senior Professor of Composition
Research Programmes - Senior Professor of Composition

Grawemeyer Award winner (1993)

Commissions from the UK and Europe’s major orchestras and ensembles including the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Aldeburgh Festival, Radio France, Arditti Quartet and Nash Ensemble

Former Head of Composition in the Academy, now a Senior Professor in the Composition faculty

Simon was born in London in 1952. He studied composition with John Lambert at the Royal College of Music and with Gunther Schuller at Tanglewood. The success of Simon’s Spirogyra at the 1971 Aldeburgh Festival led to a string quartet commission, which in turn brought him to the attention of violist Walter Trampler who commissioned the Viola Concerto in 1978. A series of largescale works followed during the 1980s and 90s, including Fantasia for Double Orchestra (1983), Double Concerto (1990), Toccata for Orchestra (1992), the horn concerto Landscape and Memory (1995) and Three Pieces for Orchestra (1998).

In 1997 Simon won the Grawemeyer Award for Ad Ora Incerta (1993), an orchestral song cycle for mezzo soprano and bassoon on poems by Primo Levi. The composer returned to the writer’s work in 1996 in his Four Primo Levi Settings composed for the Nash Ensemble. Both works have been recorded by NMC Records. Chant, a re-working of Hildegard of Bingen for 12 amplified voices and orchestra, was given its premiere in York Minster by the BBC Singers and BBC Philharmonic in 1999. In celebration of its 70th anniversary in 2000, the BBC Symphony Orchestra commissioned Scherzi. The piece has subsequently been performed at the Last Night of the BBC Proms in 2005 and by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in 2007. Voiles (2002), for solo bassoon and 12 strings, was commissioned by Radio France for soloist Pascal Gallois, and performed by him in France and the UK.

In February 2007 the BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by David Robertson gave the world premiere of Diptych, a thirty-minute work described by the Independent as ‘music that fascinates by its quietly mutating colours and almost heroic restraint’. Simon’s most significant project of recent years is Music Space Reflection, a work for 28 players inspired by and designed to be performed inside buildings designed by architect Daniel Libeskind. Jointly commissioned by the Imperial War Museum North in Manchester and Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, the piece has also been performed at the Copenhagen Jewish Museum and as a concert work at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, London.

Simon was Head of Composition at the Academy from 1999 to 2007, and was one of the first four Professors to be appointed in 2000 with the Academy's status as a constituent college of the University of London.

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