GWILYM SIMCOCK

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WORKS FOR STRING ORCHESTRA
Gwilym writing

PROGRESSIONS(2008)
BBC PROMS COMMISSION

WORLD PREMIERE 9TH AUGUST 2008 BBC PROMS

WITH THE GWILYM SIMCOCK TRIO AND THE BBC CONCERT ORCHESTRA CONDUCTED BY CHARLES HAZLEWOOD

Gwilym Simcock is dazzling poet of the keyboard

By Fiona Maddocks, Evening Standard  11.08.08

"Gwilym Simcock, 27, dazzling poet of the keyboard and Radio 3 New Generation Artist, has been catapulted from basement-club obscurity to Saturday night Proms stardom. As Jamie Cullum urged recently: "Catch Gwilym while you can still see him in venues without ushers".

Too late. The Red Coats were out in force.

In a weekend packed with premieres, Simcock's Progressions wins the prize for enlightened commissioning. This half-hour work combines the BBC Concert Orchestra with his own inspirational trio: Phil Donkin double bass, Martin France drums and Simcock himself. A stiffly traditional sounding piano concerto morphs into a noisy, rhythmically rich climax with extended improvisations and a short, bullet-shot ending".

"Pianist Simcock, bassist Phil Donkin and drummer Martin France played immaculately, as ever, in the improv sections of Simcock's Progressions for Piano and Orchestra". The Guardian

"The main premiere of the evening was Gwilym Simcock's 25-minute Progressions for piano and orchestra, which sought to fuse principles of jazz, including passages of improvisation, with the semblance of a bravura piano concerto. It was soft-centred music, with, in the smoochier bits, a sultry harmonic vocabulary redolent of the English 20th-century romantic, John Ireland, but there were also keyboard flourishes and propulsive rhythms that Simcock dispatched with aplomb". The Telegraph

"Gwilym Simcock is the new golden boy of jazz/classical fusion. A classically trained pianist, he plays with his own band (Phil Donkin, double-bass, Martin France, drums), and at the weekend found himself with the BBC Concert Orchestra in tow as well. Progressions was his new 20-minute, single- movement piano concerto, which fused with apparent ease the classical concerto format and the improvisations of jazz". The Times

"Simcock is one of the great jazz players of the day. He's British, and it'll be interesting to hear classical music influenced by jazz. And then he's a real cat playing his own stuff as well. That'll be cool, man." Nigel Kennedy, Radio Times

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Proms 2008

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..I PREFER THE GORGEOUS FREEDOM

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JACKIE'S DANCE(2007)
BRITTEN SINFONIA COMMISSION

WORLD PREMIERE LONDON JAZZ FESTIVAL 2007

Britten Sinfonia uncovers hidden treasure
Britten Sinfonia * * *
at Birmingham Town Hall
The hidden treasure of the evening was to be found at the start of the second half: Jackie's Dance, written specially for Britten leader, violinist Jacqueline Shave, and with Gil Evans' spirit at his shoulder, by the young British jazz musician Gwilym Simcock. This was the only piece that incorporated Evans' legacy while sounding like it was centred in 2007. Peter Bacon, Birmingham Post

 

 

SYMPHONIC CONSTRUCTION ON CHETHAM'S(2009)

CHETHAM'S COMMISSION

This new work 'Symphonic Construction on Chetham's' was a concept driven composition, based on the letters of the surname of our founder, Humphrey Chetham. Evoking the sights and sounds of life at Chets, (including the school bell tolling in A flat!), the new work was an intelligent fusion of Gwilym's classical and jazz interests, which featured a delicate yet integral piano part played beautifully by Gwilym himself. The concert, given the Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, marking the 40th anniversary of Chetham's School of Music, featured its Symphony Orchestra and some famous alumni. A specialist music school in Manchester, it was established in 1969 on the site of Chetham's Hospital, an orphanage founded by Humphrey Chetham in 1653.

Gwilym Simcock (piano)
Jennifer Pike (violin)
Guy Johnston (cello)
Leon McCawley (piano)
Timothy West (narrator)
Chetham's Symphony Orchestra
Grant Llewellyn, Paul Mann, Stephen Threlfall (conductors)

 

THE SOLUTION(2010)

THE HAGUE 3 DAY FESTIVAL(2010)

“I try mainly to make optimistic music,” says the British jazz pianist and composer Gwilym Simcock.

“There is absolutely a lot of seriously heavy music that is beautiful but I want to make something lighter that still has depth. Not a facile sell-out, but not unnecessarily complicated. I love melody and I think that harmonies are still a medium that shouldn’t be underestimated in creating atmosphere. Chords for me are a way of manipulating listeners psychologically and emotionally without them being aware of it. I have a classical training as a pianist but from my seventeenth year onwards I always played jazz as well. Improvising together is tremendously exciting, also for the audience. It’s marvellous to make a story - or to hear it if I’m listening to someone else’s tale - that at a certain moment, without anything being fixed beforehand, is told in that one way, and which then evaporates”.

In the concert I wrote for myself and the orchestra of the Royal Conservatoire for the Three-Day Music Festival my own part is not set. The same applied to Mozart in 1770, though I wouldn’t want to compare myself to him of course.”

Whether working as a jazz pianist or as a composer Simcock has to cope with the unpredictable factor of the audience. He, too, is sure there’s nothing wrong with the product.

“Chick Corea makes music that has something for everyone, just as Ravel and a contemporary composer like Turnage make music that is absolutely not aloof or detached. The trouble is that this music has become distant for many people because they don’t know that it exists. People are not being educated enough when it comes to music and the industry that pop music has become doesn’t help either. Pop music in fact is often not about music at all but about image, about how short the skirts are of all the R&B girls or how they’ve been styled. It’s all about money and advertising rather than music. If you approach Ravel from that angle, all you get is incomprehension, but it’s not the music’s fault ”.