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'John Adams's clarinet concerto, Gnarly Buttons, was the work that emerged with most integrity here. Soloist Mark Simpson, a Radio 3 Young Generation artist and - like Adams - both a clarinettist and a composer, was thoughtful and virtuosic, while conductor Eric Stern proved an energising source throughout the performance.'
The Guardian, BBC NOW Hoddinott Hall Cardiff, November 2013
'There's a passage in the slow movement of Mozart's Clarinet Quintet that gets me every time: just a brief sequence of downward-shifting suspended harmonies….I've never heard it more beautifully done than in this performance by the Danish String Quartet and clarinettist Mark Simpson. The upper strings were muted and nutty-warm, the cello pulsated richly, and Simpson's honeyed tone wove weightlessly in amongst them. Simpson was an ideal match: playing a special oversized clarinet with long plumbing to reach the lowest notes of the original score, his sound was velvety at the bottom and his control seemed effortless. Classy stuff.'
Herald Tribune, Lammermuir Festival, September 2013
'Mark Simpson was just 19 when he composed A mirror-fragment in 2008. Slightly revised for this, its third performance, the piece only betrays its composer's youth in its rampant ambition. In other respects – the handling of orchestral texture and line, the crystal-clear derivation and development of motif, the effortless control of momentum and space – it is a masterful affair. Exciting and assured, the 10-minute orchestral piece is rewarding whether you consider its poetic context or take the music by itself: either way, it thrills the ears and sends the imagination wild. Any orchestra worth its salt should take this work up.'
The Guardian 5 star review, BBC SO Martyn Brabbins at the Barbican, April 2013
'However it was clarinettist Mark Simpson, one-time winner of BBC Young Musician of the Year, who stole the show… The performances he gave of Berio’s giant Sequenza and Reich’s New York Counterpoint were simply astounding, and made their unfolding logic seem totally convincing.'
The Daily Telegraph, Non Classical Club Night at the Troy Bar in Hoxton, November 2011
'Tippett’s Symphony No 2, one of his finest creations, was given under Martyn Brabbins’s direction alongside the London premiere of the 24-year-old Mark Simpson’s A Mirror-Fragment. An evocation of a poem about the curious optical experiment of putting a sliver of mirror in someone’s cornea, to anatomise a gaze, the 10-minute score proved a remarkably assured wielding of large orchestral forces — a predominantly tutti effect, but always bitingly precise, the idiom modernist, not minimalist, the argument vigorous and clear.'
The Sunday Times, BBC SO Martyn Brabbins at the Barbican, April 2013
‘….a very powerful programme, of huge physicality and violent contrast of shade and dynamic. Not your usual charming clarinet recital: it was clear that contemporary composers like MacMillan, Turnage and, on this occasion, Simpson himself, are attracted to the instrument not least for the suddenness of its expressive range, balmy to raucous and back in a breath. The sonatas Simpson and Whitley played by Howells and Ireland were themselves surprisingly forceful and modernistic by those composers’ usual standards, and even Brahms was given what you might call the twenty-first century treatment. These are two remarkable and innovative young musicians of enormous promise – precisely the kind the festival under Gareth Walters was most keen to encourage.’
Seen and heard international, Gower Festival, July 2012
In 2006 Mark Simpson became the first ever winner of both the BBC Young Musician and BBC Proms/Guardian Young Composer of the Year Competitions.
Born in Liverpool, in 2006 at the age of 17 Mark Simpson became the first ever winner of both the BBC Young Musician and BBC Proms/Guardian Young Composer of the Year Competitions.
Now emerging as a major new voice, both as a composer and clarinettist, in 2012 Mark was selected for representation by YCAT and joined the BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artist Scheme. He went on to embark on a full publishing relationship with Boosey & Hawkes, and in 2014 won a Borletti-Buitoni Trust Fellowship Award.
During 2015 Mark’s new orchestral score for the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra is premiered on 2 April at Glasgow City Halls, and a new dramatic work for solo baritone, chorus and orchestra is premiered at Manchester International Festival on 4 July (supported by Sky Arts Futures Fund, in association with IdeasTap). As a performer Mark takes part in concerts at the Aldeburgh International Festival with George Benjamin and Pierre-Laurent Aimard and appears as soloist with the BBC Symphony Orchestra. Future projects include an operatic collaboration with writer Melanie Challenger (supported by a Jerwood Opera Writing Fellowship).
Between 2012-2014 Mark’s commissions have included sparks which was premiered at the Last Night of the Proms, Exile for the National Youth Choirs at the Royal Albert Hall, Salvator Mundi for the Choir of Christchurch Cathedral Oxford, Geysir for Britten Sinfonia and Night Music for cellist Leonard Elsenbroich at Wigmore Hall. His orchestral work a mirror-fragment….received its London premiere with the BBC Symphony Orchestra at the Barbican.
A passionate exponent of new music, during 2013 Mark performed and recorded the Lindberg Concerto with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Adam’s Gnarly Buttons with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and took part in the Julian Anderson Day at Wigmore Hall. Concert appearances have included recitals at Wigmore Hall, Royal Festival Hall, Sage Gateshead, the Cheltenham, Lammermuir, Spitalfields and Ryedale Festivals, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, BeethovenFest, O’Modernt and Trasimeno Festivals, with premieres of works by Simon Holt, Jonathan Harvey and Edmund Finnis. He has undertaken residencies at the Banff Centre and Denver Colorado.
As a soloist Mark has appeared with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic (Vassily Petrenko), Northern Sinfonia (Yan Pascal Tortelier), BBC Philharmonic (Gianandrea Noseda), City of London Sinfonia, BBC Concert Orchestra and Northern Chamber Orchestra, among many others. In 2011 his debut CD was released on the NMC label including especially commissioned works by Mark Anthony Turnage, Gary Carpenter, David Horne, Kenneth Hesketh, Gavin Higgins, Emily Howard and Stephen Pratt.
Mark has had his compositions performed by leading orchestras and ensembles including the National Youth Orchestra, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, the Aronowitz Ensemble and the Meiningen Symphony Orchestra. In 2010 he won the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Composition Award for which he wrote Lethe for trombone and ensemble performed at the Royal Festival Hall.
Mark read Music at St. Catherine’s College Oxford graduating with first class honours. In 2012 he completed an MMus in composition with Julian Anderson at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama. He studied clarinet with Nicholas Cox at the Junior School of the Royal Northern College of Music and privately with Mark van der Wiel.
For further information on Mark Simpson’s compositions visit www.boosey.com/simpson