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Mark Simpson wins Sky Arts bursary for new commission

(April 2013)

Mark Simpson, recent winner of a Sky Arts Futures Fund bursary, has twin performances in April with the BBC Symphony Orchestra: as composer of A mirror-fragment... and as virtuoso soloist in Lindberg's Clarinet Concerto.

Mark Simpson, aged 24, has in recent years emerged as an exciting new musical talent, establishing successful twin careers as composer and clarinettist. He first came to attention in 2006 aged 17, winning both the BBC Young Musician of the Year and BBC Proms/Guardian Young composer of the Year Competitions. He studied music at St Catherine's College Oxford followed by Masters studies in composition at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London with Julian Anderson. He has performed as soloist with UK orchestras including the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC Philharmonic and National Youth Orchestra, and recent compositions have included his concert-opener sparks, commissioned by the BBC and premiered at the Last Night of the Proms in 2012.

His latest accolade is winning a Sky Arts Futures Fund bursary, one of five awarded to the most exciting young creative artists. Worth £30,000, the bursary makes it possible for Simpson to have time and resource to create a 30-minute commissioned work which looks set to be his most ambitious composition to date. His planned new score is inspired by John Gray's book The Immortalization Commission which focuses on the efforts made by early 20th-century spiritualists and scientists to defy mortality. The new composition, scored for an ensemble of instruments and voices, is described by Simpson as "a sonic palimpsest".

Mark Simpson's association with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, following sparks at the Last Night of the Proms, continues in April with events as both composer and clarinettist. On 19 April his orchestral score A mirror-fragment... receives its London premiere at the Barbican conducted by Martyn Brabbins. The 12-minute tone poem, commissioned from Simpson by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic as part of his native city's celebrations as European City of Culture in 2008, was premiered by the orchestra under Paul Daniel and received its German premiere in Meiningen last year. The London performance of A mirror-fragment... is preceded by a pre-concert talk and the concert will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3.
> Barbican box office

On 30 April Mark Simpson joins the BBC Symphony Orchestra at its Maida Vale Studios home for an Invitation Concert featuring Magnus Lindberg's Clarinet Concerto. Simpson is a BBC Radio 3 Young Generation Artist and his performance - his first of the concerto - will be broadcast live on Afternoon on 3. Free tickets are available from:
> BBC Shows

Also in April is the premiere of Simpson's Exile, a choral setting of poetry by Hart Crane for the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain, unveiled at the Royal Albert Hall on 14 April. Future premieres include Salvator Mundi for the Choir of Christchurch Cathedral Oxford commissioned by the Newbury Spring Festival on 25 May, an orchestral work, and a new work for the winds of the Britten Sinfonia scheduled for premiere in February 2014.


> Further information on Work: A mirror-fragment...

Photo: Elisabeth Blanchett

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