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Thomas Simaku

The elegance of Ligeti and the gritty intensity of Kurtág, a fascinating combination.... I get the sense of pure music in a serious vein, its composer driven only by an internal need to express himself.

James H. North, Fanfare Magazine, USA 2008

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

Avantgarde und Ethnologie vereint, by Frank Kämpfer, Editor-in-chief, Deutschland-funk, Cologne, 2008

Power is certainly the mot juste here, as even in the moments that veer towards silence there is an awareness of the explosive potentialities of the musical surface. As on all the works presented here, the sure voice of the composer is never in doubt.

Colin Clarke, 2009 Cambridge University Press, Tempo 63

Multi award-winning composer, Thomas Simaku (b.1958) graduated from the Albanian State Conservatoire in Tirana (1983), and gained a PhD in Composition from University of York (1996) where he studied with David Blake. Simaku was the Leonard Bernstein Fellow in Composition at Tanglewood Music Centre, USA (1996) studying with Bernard Rands, and a fellow at the Composers' Workshop, California State University (1998), with Brian Ferneyhough.

Thomas Simaku's music has been reaching audiences across Europe, the USA and further afield for more than two decades, and it has been awarded a host of accolades for its expressive qualities and its unique blend of intensity and modernism. His works have been selected by international juries in no less than nine editions of ISCM World Music Days; other international festivals where his music has been performed include Huddersfield, Tanglewood, Miami, Zagreb-Biennale, Weimar, Munich, Rome, Viitassari (Finland), Alea III Boston, Beijing, Innsbruck (Austria), Warsaw Autumn, etc. Performed by renowned soloists, ensembles and orchestras, his music has been broadcast worldwide, including radio stations such as BBC Radio 3, SWR2, MDR, Deutschlandfunk (Cologne), Amsterdam Radio 4, ORF (Austria), Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), RNE (Spain), RTP (Portugal), etc. His CD, released on Naxos 21st Century Classics series in 2008 received much critical acclaim; it reached the best of year list in the USA.

Prestigious awards include the coveted Lionel Robbins Memorial Scholarship in 1993, First Prize of the 2004 Serocki International Competition, a Leverhulme Research Fellowship, and a three-year fellowship from Arts & Humanities Research Council in London. In 2009 Simaku received a British Composer Award from BASCA for his Soliloquy V - Flauto Acerbo, which the judging panel described as 'visionary and entirely original'. With this work he represented the UK at the 2012 ISCM Festival in Belgium.

In 2013 Simaku won the first prize of the International Competition for Lutoslawski's 100th Birthday with Concerto for Orchestra, chosen from 160 compositions submitted anonymously from 37 countries. Thomas Simaku holds a senior position as Reader in Composition at the University of York.
© UYMP 2015

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

Thursday 8th October 2015, 7.00pm
Pianodrom International Festival, Academy of Arts, Tirana
'Deux Esquisses', 'The Flight of the Eagle' for solo piano
Joseph Houston (piano)
Pianodrom International Festival
Saturday 7th November 2015, 6.30pm
St. John's Church, Waterloo Road, London
'Albanian Folk Song - My Beautiful Morea' for wind instrument and piano (LONDON PREMIERE)
Sarah Watts (bass clarinet)
Antony Clare (piano)
Scaw Playday
Saturday 28th November 2015, 1.00pm
St. Paul's Hall, Huddersfield
String Quartet No 5 (WORLD PREMIERE)
Commissioned by HCMF
Quatuor Diotima
Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival

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