Mark Simpson has now established himself as a major new voice on the international stage, hailed as a “revelation” (Bachtrack) and “standout” (Guardian). As a performer and composer, he is committed to new music and his compositions have been performed at the BBC Proms, Salzburg and Edinburgh International Festivals, Royal Festival Hall, Wigmore Hall and Barbican Centre London, amongst others.
Simpson performs worldwide as a clarinettist, both as a concerto soloist and chamber musician. Recent concerto highlights include the Lindberg Concerto with the BBC Philharmonic at the BBC Proms with Juanjo Mena, the Nielsen Concerto with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Sir Andrew Davis, as well as appearances at the Southbank Centre’s International Chamber Music Series, Cologne Philharmonie, Salzburg, Edinburgh International and Aldeburgh Festivals with artists including Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Isabelle Faust, Antoine Tamestit, Danielle de Niese and Jean-Guihen Queyras. He has also appeared with orchestras including the Mozarteum Salzburg, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, BBC Philharmonic, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Northern Sinfonia, City of London Sinfonia and BBC Concert Orchestra, collaborating with conductors including Juanjo Mena, Vasily Petrenko, Gianandrea Noseda, Cristian Măcelaru, Sakari Oramo, Yan Tortelier, Baldur Brönnimann, HK Gruber, Clemens Schuldt and Martyn Brabbins. In 2015, Simpson was appointed Composer in Association at the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, a creative partnership that is in place for a period of four years.
As a recitalist, he regularly performs at venues including the Wigmore Hall, Royal Festival Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, BeethovenFest, Sage Gateshead, Cheltenham Festival, O’Modernt and Trasimeno Festivals, with premieres of works by Simon Holt, Jonathan Harvey and Edmund Finnis. In the 18/19 season, he will be Artist-in-Residence at the Lammermuir Festival, will curate a BBC Radio 3 chamber weekend at Saffron Hall in spring 2019 and will direct a performance with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic’s Ensemble 10/10 including works by Henze and Simpson himself. The season culminates with the premiere of his own Clarinet Concerto with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra and Ben Gernon in June 2019 at the Bridgewater Hall.
As a composer Simpson’s most recent composition was his Cello Concerto (2018), premiered by Leonard Elschenbroich with the BBC Philharmonic and Clemens Schuldt, which was rapturously received: ‘Immediately compelling’ (Guardian); ‘irresistible’ (Times). His orchestral work, The Immortal (2015), an oratorio for baritone, chorus and symphony orchestra, was premiered by the BBC Philharmonic and Juanjo Mena at the Manchester International Festival, with support from Sky Arts Futures Fund and IdeasTap. In July 2016 The Immortal won the South Bank Sky Arts Award for Classical Music. Other orchestral works include Israfel (2014), premiered by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and Andrew Litton, sparks (2012), commissioned for the Last Night of the BBC Proms and A mirror-fragment… (2008), written for the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra.
One of today’s most intriguing artists on the British music scene, it would be wrong to describe Liverpool-born Mark Simpson as either clarinettist or composer. His musical life is a symbiosis of his performing on the concert platform and pouring over his manuscripts. In 2022/2023 season Mark continues to premiere Alchymia, a new clarinet quintet by Thomas Adès dedicated to Mark and the Diotima Quartet, and in January 2023 his first piano concerto will be premiered
by Vikingur Ólafsson and the London Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Ed Gardner.
In the 2022/23 season his piano concerto has further premiere performances with Vikingur Ólafsson under the baton of Ed Gardner with Bergen Philharmonic, in the Philharmonie Essen and with Louis Langrée and Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.
His violin concerto which received premieres with the London Symphony Orchestra and Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra performed by its’ dedicatee Nicola Benedetti will also be performed by her with Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra in Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw and Marcus Stenze and Cologne’s Philharmonie with WDR Koln and Cristian Mcelaru. Other forthcoming premieres in Germany include Simpson’s first opera, Pleasure at the Theater Erfurt in Spring 2023 and his orchestral work, Israfel with Deutsche Symphonie Orchester Berlin and Robin Ticciati. His solo work for horn and piano, Nachtstück, written for Ben Goldscheider (as an ECHO Rising Stars Artist) continues to be performed in major concert halls across Europe.
In 2022/23 Simpson continues his partnerships with Pierre-Laurent Aimard and Jean-Guihen Queryas in performances of Helmut Lachenmann works touring to Vienna’s Konzerthaus and the Philharmonie Luxembourg. He performs Adès’s Alchymia with the Diotima Quartet at the 2022 Aix en Provence Festival, in Lucerne and Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie. As Artist in Focus in London’s King’s Place during 2021/22 season Mark curated chamber programmes with Leonard Elschenbroich, Richard Uttley, the Diotima Quartet and on a solo programme in collaboration with Philip Dawson on electronics, of 7 living composers Julian Anderson, Zoë Martlew and Philip Cashian were present for the premieres of their works on the programme.