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Composer: Simpson, Mark (b. 1988)

Fact file
Year of birth1988
NationalityUnited Kingdom
PeriodContemporary
June 2019
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Evening performance
Matinee performance
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ManchesterMozart/Mark Simpson/Mahler

Mozart, Simpson, Mahler
BBC Philharmonic; Ben Gernon; Elizabeth Watts; Mark Simpson
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Contemplations on death from Tchaikovsky and Simpson

Juanjo Mena © BBC | Chris Christodoulou
Juanjo Mena and the BBC Philharmonic juxtaposed Simpson's oratorio, The Immortal, inspired by mediums and seances, with Tchaikovsky's Sixth Symphony where life slips away into the void.
***11
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Mena and the BBC Phil chasing the other-worldly

Juanjo Mena and the BBC Philharmonic © BBC | Chris Christodoulou
Johannes Moser summmoned the other in Dutilleux's Baudelaire-inspired cello concerto, but the BBC Philharmonic and Juanjo Mena gave a mundane account of Elgar's First Symphony. 
***11
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Pleasure: A refreshing operatic experience

Lesley Garrett (Val) © Robert Workman
So many things are right about Mark Simpson's new opera Pleasure, receiving its London debut at the Lyric Hammersmith.
****1
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New Dots (and sounds) at The Forge, Camden

Yuko Ohara and Joshua Batty  ©  Cathy Pyle
New Dots is a new initiative devoted to supporting emerging composers and performers in contemporary music, and this was its second-ever concert, at The Forge in Camden.
****1
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Powerful Tippett, Beethoven and Mark Simpson with the BBC SO at the Barbican

Mark Simpson  ©  Elisabeth Blanchett
On the day after the announcement of the programme for this year’s BBC Proms, the BBC Symphony Orchestra gave us yet another concert worthy of that great festival. Under the experienced baton of Martyn Brabbins they took three centuries of music in their stride and at the end of the concert I was left feeling that musical life in London would be so much less exciting without the BBC.
****1
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Biography
© Elisabeth Blanchett
© Elisabeth Blanchett

Read our October 2013 interview with Mark Simpson here.

Born in 1988 in Liverpool, in 2006 Mark 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. He studied clarinet with Nicholas Cox at the Junior School of the Royal Northern College of Music and now studies privately with Mark van de Wiel. He read Music at St Catherine’s College, Oxford, graduating with first-class honours, and in 2012 completed an MMus in composition with Julian Anderson at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama supported by the Ralph Vaughan Williams Trust. In 2012 he was selected for representation by YCAT.

As a clarinettist Mark made his Wigmore Hall debut at the age of 17. He has appeared as soloist with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic (Vasily Petrenko), Northern Sinfonia (Yan Pascal Tortelier), BBC Philharmonic (Gianandrea Noseda), City of London Sinfonia, Manning Camerata, BBC Concert Orchestra, Oxford Philomusica and the Cambridge Philharmonic Orchestra. In 2008 he was a soloist in the BBC Last Night of the Proms in Hyde Park.

Further afield, Mark has given recitals at the Festspiele Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, BeethovenFest in Bonn, Denver Colorado as a Lakewood Music Scholar, and toured the Middle East. During 2009/10 he was artist in residence with the Northern Chamber Orchestra.

Mark is deeply committed to the performance of new music. His debut CD was released on the NMC label and saw the culmination of five years of working with composers Mark-Anthony Turnage, Gary Carpenter, David Horne, Kenneth Hesketh, Gavin Higgins, Emily Howard and Stephen Pratt, developing new works for the clarinet and basset clarinet.

As a composer Mark has had works performed by some of the country’s leading orchestras and ensembles. In 2008 he wrote Threads for the National Youth Orchestra, Nur Musik for oboe and ensemble commissioned by Ensemble 10/10, and ‘A mirror-fragment...’ for orchestra commissioned by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. ‘A mirror-fragment...’ received its German première in Meiningen last year and in April received its London première by the BBC Symphony Orchestra at the Barbican. He has also written for the Mercury Quartet, pianist Richard Uttley and the Aronowitz Ensemble who performed his piece Los Proverbios in the Royal Concertgebouw in 2011.

In 2010 Mark won the Royal Philharmonic Society Composition Award for which he wrote Lethe for trombone and ensemble, which was performed at the Royal Festival Hall. He was commissioned by the BBC to write sparks, the opening work for the 2012 Last Night of the Proms, and is a fellow on the Jerwood Opera Writing fellowship scheme. In 2013 he was awarded a Sky Arts Futures Fund bursary to enable the composition of a new work for an ensemble of instruments and voices.

Reprinted by kind permission of Boosey & Hawkes.

List of works