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Mark Simpson wins South Bank Sky Arts Award

(June 2016)

SimpsonSkyArtsAward.jpg Composer and clarinettist Mark Simpson has won the 2016 South Bank Sky Arts Award for Classical Music for his oratorio The Immortal.

Mark Simpson, the 27-year-old Liverpool-born composer and clarinettist, has won the 2016 South Bank Sky Arts Award for Classical Music, announced on 5 June in London. Simpson was in attendance at the awards ceremony at the Savoy Hotel to receive his award from soprano Danielle de Niese. The full event will be screened on Sky Arts on 8 June.

The only Classical Music award at the 20th year celebration of the South Bank Sky Arts Awards was granted to Mark Simpson for his oratorio The Immortal, composed to a libretto by Melanie Challenger and premiered at the Manchester International Festival in 2015. Mark Simpson is a previous recipient of the Sky Academy Arts Scholarship: The Immortal was composed as his Scholarship project in 2014-15 in association with IdeasTap and with support from the MIF Commissioning Circle.

The South Bank Sky Arts Awards are still unique in focussing on all genres of the arts. They continue to celebrate culture in all its forms with a diverse array of winners and performers, showcasing the South Bank Sky Arts Awards’ ability to pinpoint the best of what the arts community has to offer. Phil Edgar Jones, Director of Sky Arts said "Once again the range of creative talent on show at this year's South Bank Sky Arts Awards demonstrates the Arts are in rude health in the UK. We are delighted to be able to recognise a broad range of incredibly imaginative and talented people."

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Mark Simpson's The Immortal, scored for baritone, chorus and orchestra, was described by The Guardian as "a blazingly original oratorio" and by The Times as "the most thrilling new choral work I have heard in years". Inspired by John Gray's book, The Immortalization Commission, Simpson's work explores the obsession with death that lies at the heart of the human experience. Melanie Challenger's text describes strange events dating from the early years of the 20th century when mediums reached out to the recently deceased at seances, specifically focussing on the psychical researches of Frederic Myers and the unveiling of his hidden secret.

Simpson recently won acclaim for his first opera Pleasure, toured from Opera North in Leeds, to Liverpool, Aldeburgh and the Lyric Hammersmith in London presented by The Royal Opera. With libretto by Melanie Challenger, the chamber opera is a powerful drama of personal tragedy amidst the abandon of a gay nightclub, starring soprano Lesley Garrett in the lead role.

A new disc of Simpson's chamber music was recently released on the NMC label and his orchestral work Israfel will be performed at the BBC Proms in August. Simpson has recently completed a chamber trio for premiere at the Edinburgh and Salzburg Festivals and is composing a cello concerto for Leonard Elschenbroich, commissioned as part of his five year Composer in Association residency with the BBC Philharmonic.

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>  Further information on Work: The Immortal

Photo: Kaupo Kikkas

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