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 der 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 and in 2015 was appointed Composer in Association with the BBC Philharmonic for four years.
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. The German premiere of A mirror-fragment... took place in Meiningen in 2012 and in 2013 it received its London premiere by the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Martyn Brabbins at the Barbican. He has also written for the Mercury Quartet, pianist Richard Uttley, the Aronowitz Ensemble who performed his piece Los Proverbios in the Royal Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, and cellist Leonard Elschenbroich.
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 in 2012 to write sparks, the opening work for the Last Night of the Proms, and the Britten Sinfonia gave first performances of his wind ensemble work Geysir in Cambridge and London in 2014. His orchestral work Israfel was premiered by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and Andrew Litton in April 2015. His oratorio The Immortal, commissioned by Manchester International Festival with support from Sky Arts Futures Fund and IdeasTap, was premiered in July 2015. He is a fellow on the Jerwood Opera Writing fellowship scheme, working with writer Melanie Challenger on a new opera Pleasure, to be premiered by Opera North with performances in Leeds, Liverpool, Aldeburgh and London in 2016.
As a clarinettist Mark made his Wigmore Hall debut at the age of 17. He has appeared as soloist with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic (Vassily 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 and in 2015 was a featured artist at the Aldeburgh Festival and performed Nielsen's Clarinet Concerto at the BBC Proms. 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.
Mark is deeply committed to the performance of new music. During 2013 Mark performed and recorded Lindberg's Clarinet Concerto with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Adams's Gnarly Buttons with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and took part in the Julian Anderson Day at Wigmore Hall. His debut CD was released on the NMC label in 2011 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.
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