“...the elegance of Ligeti and the gritty intensity of Kurtág, a fascinating combination.” Fanfare Magazine, USA, 2008
"Simaku's idiom combines avant-gardism and modality in a manner all its own." Avangarde und Ethnologie vereint, by Frank Kämpfer, Deutschlandfunk, Cologne, 2008
"…tumultuous and glistening, with a deeply convincing inner strength, structural integrity and an impressively thunderous character." Politiken, Copenhagen, 2005
Albanian-born British composer Thomas Simaku (b. 1958) studied composition at the Tirana Conservatoire (1978-82) and the University of York (1991-96) where he was awarded a PhD in Composition, studying with David Blake. Winner of the coveted Lionel Robbins Memorial Scholarship in 1993 (Simaku was the only candidate in the UK to win the award that year), he also was the 1996 Leonard Bernstein Fellow in Composition at Tanglewood Music Centre in the USA studying with Bernard Rands, and a fellow at the Composers’ Workshop, California State University (1998), with Brian Ferneyhough.
Simaku's music has been reaching audiences all over Europe and the USA for over a decade, and it has been awarded a host of accolades for its highly expressive qualities and its unique blend of drama, intensity and modernism.
Notable performances include, among others, those given by the Kreutzer Quartet, Arditti Quartet, English Northern Philharmonia, European Union Chamber Orchestra, MusikFabrik, Polish Radio Chamber Orchestra, the New London Orchestra, Amsterdam New Music Ensemble, Goldberg Ensemble, Tokyo Phonosphere Musicale, Insomnio Ensemble, Capricorn Ensemble, Norwegian Medieval Trio, New Music Players, Concorde (Dublin) and Austrian ‘Ticom’ Ensemble. Internationally renowned soloists such as Peter Sheppard Skaerved, Noriko Kawai, Rohan de Saram, Garth Knox, Ian Pace and Madeleine Shapiro have performed his solo pieces.
Simaku's works have been performed in festivals such as ISCM (‘95, ‘99, 00, ‘01, ‘03, ‘04, ‘05, ‘06), Huddersfield, Rome, Venice, Tanglewood, Miami, Manchester, Zagreb Biennale, Munich Biennale, Cagliari, Odense (Denmark), KlangSpectrum (Austria), Viitassari (Finland), etc. Broadcasts of his music include those by the BBC Radio 3, Radio-France, ORF (Austria), SWR2, MDR, ADR (Germany), RDP Portugal, ABC (Australia), Swedish, Polish, Hellenic, Danish, Israeli, Croatian, Swiss, Icelandic and Brazil national radio stations. A concert-portrait featuring his music took place at the 2003 Begegnungen Internationale Konzertserie in Innsbruck, Austria. In 2000 he was granted British citizenship and now lives in York with his wife and two daughters.
Winner of a number of prestigious awards such as Serocki International Prize and Lutoslawski Award, AHRC Fellowship, Leverhulme Research Fellowship, DAAD Award, and Honourable Mention at the Musical Personalities International Competition – Alexander Tansman 2006, Simaku is a lecturer in composition at the University of York.
His CD on Naxos 21st Century Classics series, released in May 2008, has been met with much critical acclaim.
"It is barely conceivable that two voices, accompanying and contrasting one another, and each laden with different associations, are both played by one and the same bow." Frank Kämpfer, Deutschlandfunk, Cologne, 2008
"The works recorded here confirm my early impressions when I first heard some of Simaku’s music. Here is a composer who obviously has things to say and who knows how to say them best." MusicWeb International, 2008, review by Hubert Culot
[Hyllus for Orchestra]
" ... an imaginative and captivating piece. " ISCM - World New Music Magazine, July 2006
" ... a piece of controlled, dramatic and surprisingly individual power." Keith Potter, Tempo, Cambridge, April 2005
[Radius for 11 solo strings]
"... the work's periodic climactic outbursts achieved striking effect." The Guardian, 2005
"...Réflexions de la Croix III was the only work in the concert which demonstrated a real individual charisma." Stuttgarter Nachrichten - 2006
"A piece of unaccompanied violin writing which brings out the instrument's genius for passionate expression, fully realised in the young Luxembourg violinist Vania Lecuit's riveting interpretation." Peter Graham Woolf - Seen & Heard, London - review of the ISCM Festival, Luxembourg 2000
"...Soliloquy III for solo viola [...] explores a wide range of high harmonics and microtonal effects, rapidly switching from violent chordal attacks to spare bowed fragments, reminiscent of Georgy Kurtag in its spare atomistic compression." Sun-Sentinel, Florida
[The Eagle on the Cross]
"The technical command, dramatic pacing and vivid orchestration made for a seriously impressive musical essay with a real sense of purpose and outrage." Yorkshire Evening Press, 1999