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Thomas Simaku


...the elegance of Ligeti and the gritty intensity of Kurtág, a fascinating combination.

Fanfare Magazine, USA, 2008

Simaku's idiom combines avant-gardism and modality in a manner all its own.

Frank Kämfer, Avangarde und Ethnologie vereint, Deutschlandfunk, Cologne, 2008

...tumultuous and glistening, with a deeply convincing inner strength, structural integrity and an impressively thunderous character.

Politiken, Copenhagen, 2005

Albanian-born British composer Thomas Simaku (b. 1958) studied composition at the Tirana Conservatoire (1978-82) and the University of York (1991-96) where he was awarded a PhD in Composition, studying with David Blake. Winner of the coveted Lionel Robbins Memorial Scholarship in 1993 (Simaku was the only candidate in the UK to win the award that year), he also was the 1996 Leonard Bernstein Fellow in Composition at Tanglewood Music Centre in the USA studying with Bernard Rands, and a fellow at the Composers' Workshop, California State University (1998), with Brian Ferneyhough.

Simaku's music has been reaching audiences all over Europe and the USA for over a decade, and it has been awarded a host of accolades for its highly expressive qualities and its unique blend of drama, intensity and modernism.

Notable performances include, among others, those given by the Kreutzer Quartet, Arditti Quartet, English Northern Philharmonia, European Union Chamber Orchestra, MusikFabrik, Polish Radio Chamber Orchestra, the New London Orchestra, Amsterdam New Music Ensemble, Goldberg Ensemble, Tokyo Phonosphere Musicale, Insomnio Ensemble, Capricorn Ensemble, Norwegian Medieval Trio, New Music Players, Concorde (Dublin) and Austrian 'Ticom' Ensemble. Internationally renowned soloists such as Peter Sheppard Skaerved, Noriko Kawai, Rohan de Saram, Garth Knox, Ian Pace and Madeleine Shapiro have performed his solo pieces.

Simaku's works have been performed in festivals such as ISCM ('95, '99, 00, '01, '03, '04, '05, '06), Huddersfield, Rome, Venice, Tanglewood, Miami, Manchester, Zagreb Biennale, Munich Biennale, Cagliari, Odense (Denmark), KlangSpectrum (Austria), Viitassari (Finland), etc. Broadcasts of his music include those by the BBC Radio 3, Radio-France, ORF (Austria), SWR2, MDR, ADR (Germany), RDP Portugal, ABC (Australia), Swedish, Polish, Hellenic, Danish, Israeli, Croatian, Swiss, Icelandic and Brazil national radio stations. A concert-portrait featuring his music took place at the 2003 Begegnungen Internationale Konzertserie in Innsbruck, Austria. In 2000 he was granted British citizenship and now lives in York with his wife and two daughters.

Winner of a number of prestigious awards such as Serocki International Prize and Lutoslawski Award, AHRC Fellowship, Leverhulme Research Fellowship, DAAD Award, and Honourable Mention at the Musical Personalities International Competition - Alexander Tansman 2006, Simaku is a lecturer in composition at the University of York.

His CD on Naxos 21st Century Classics series, released in May 2008, has been met with much critical acclaim.

The works recorded here confirm my early impressions when I first heard some of Simaku's music. Here is a composer who obviously has things to say and who knows how to say them best.

Hubert Culot, MusicWeb International, 2008 on Naxos CD Works for Strings

It is barely conceivable that two voices, accompanying and contrasting one another, and each laden with different associations, are both played by one and the same bow.

Frank Kämpfer, Deutschlandfunk, Cologne, 2008, translated by Mark Hutchinson (read the full review) on Due Sotto Voce per Violino Solo

...an imaginative and captivating piece.

ISCM - World New Music Magazine, July 2006 on Hyllus for Orchestra

...a piece of controlled, dramatic and surprisingly individual power.

Keith Potter, Tempo, Cambridge, April 2005 on Hyllus for Orchestra

...the work's periodic climactic outbursts achieved striking effect.

The Guardian, 2005 on Radius for 11 solo strings

...Rèflexions de la Croix III was the only work in the concert which demonstrated a real individual charisma.

Stuttgarter Nachrichten, 2006

A piece of unaccompanied violin writing which brings out the instrument's genius for passionate expression, fully realised in the young Luxembourg violinist Vania Lecuit's riveting interpretation.

Peter Graham Woolf - Seen & Heard, London - review of the ISCM Festival, Luxembourg 2000 on Soliloquy I

"...Soliloquy III for solo viola [...] explores a wide range of high harmonics and microtonal effects, rapidly switching from violent chordal attacks to spare bowed fragments, reminiscent of Georgy Kurtag in its spare atomistic compression.

Sun-Sentinel, Florida

The technical command, dramatic pacing and vivid orchestration made for a seriously impressive musical essay with a real sense of purpose and outrage.

Yorkshire Evening Press, 1999 on The Eagle on the Cross


‣ Thomas Simaku on our catalogue

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Forthcoming performances

Sat 7th March 2015, 8.00pm
Centre d'art contemporain, Le Mans, France
'Akhmatova Song' for soprano and violoncello (WORLD PREMIERE)
Juliette de Massy (soprano), Rohan de Saram (cello)
Sun 8th March 2015, 5.00pm
Les moulins de paillard, Centre d'art contemporain, Le Mans, France
'Akhmatova Song' for soprano and violoncello
Juliette de Massy (soprano), Rohan de Saram (cello)
Sat 28th March 2015
to Sat 4th April 2015
California Tour, USA
'Dressed in White' - Albanian Folk Songs
Cornell University Choir, conducted by Robert Isaacs
Mon 30th March 2015, 8.30pm
'Soliloquy V (b) - Flauto Acerbo' - version for flute & alto flute
Iwona Glinka (flute)
Wed 1st April 2015, 7.30pm
Saddleworth Concerts Society,
Millgate Arts Centre, Stoneswood Road, Delph OL5 3DY
'Hommage à Kurtág' for solo piano
Clare Hammond (piano)
Mon 20th April 2015, 7.30pm
Wienerkonzerhaus, Schubertsaal,
Musica Juventutis
'Soliloquy V - Flauto Acerbo' for alto and tenor recorders
Lorina Vallaster (recorders)
Sat 25th April 2015
Painswick Music Society
'Herla' for flute and harp
Antara Flute and Harp Duo: Thomas Hancox and Rachel Wick
Sat 30th May 2015
Thomas Traherne Society, Hereford
Tue 9th June 2015, 6.00pm
National Centre for Early Music, York
'Capriccioso' for solo violin
Peter Sheppard Skaerved (violin)

[pdf files]Download .pdf version of Thomas Simaku's catalogue