Multi award–winning composer Thomas Simaku (b.1958) graduated from the Albanian State Conservatoire in Tirana (1983) and gained a PhD in Composition from University of York (1996) where he studied with David Blake. Simaku was the Leonard Bernstein Fellow in Composition at Tanglewood Music Centre, USA (1996) studying with Bernard Rands, and a fellow at the Composers’ Workshop, California State University (1998), with Brian Ferneyhough.
Described by the British Composer Award judging panel as ‘visionary and entirely original’, the French National Radio as ‘astonishing’, and the German magazine Neue Zeitschrift für Musik as ‘breathtakingly original’, Simaku's music has been reaching audiences across Europe, the USA and further afield for three decades now, and it has been awarded a host of accolades for its expressive qualities and its unique blend of intensity and modernism. This expressivity has its own idiosyncratic qualities, which integrates aspects of ancient musical aura into contemporary idioms, creating ‘unflinching visceral soundscapes’ (BBC Magazine).
His works have been selected by international juries in no less than ten editions of ISCM World Music Days; other international festivals where his music has been performed include Huddersfield, Tanglewood, Miami, Zagreb-Biennale, Weimar, Munich, Rome, Viitassari (Finland), Alea III Boston, Beijing, Innsbruck (Austria), Warsaw Autumn, etc. Performed by renowned soloists, ensembles and orchestras, his music has been broadcast worldwide, including radio stations such as BBC Radio 3, Radio France, SWR2, MDR, Deutschlandfunk (Cologne), Amsterdam Radio 4, ORF (Austria), Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), RNE (Spain), RTP (Portugal), etc. His CD, released on Naxos 21st Century Classics series in 2008 received much critical acclaim; it reached the best of year list in the USA.
Prestigious awards include the coveted Lionel Robbins Memorial Scholarship in 1993, First Prize of the 2004 Serocki International Competition, a two-year Leverhulme Research Fellowship, and a three-year fellowship from Arts & Humanities Research Council in London. In 2009 Simaku received a British Composer Award from BASCA for his Soliloquy V - Flauto Acerbo –with this work he represented the UK at the 2012 ISCM Festival in Belgium.
In 2013 Simaku won the first prize of the International Competition for Lutosławski’s 100th Birthday with Concerto for Orchestra, chosen from 160 compositions submitted anonymously from 37 countries. Two of his latest CDs were released by Naxos and BIS Records in 2019 and 2000 respectively and have received much critical acclaim internationally. Thomas Simaku is a Professor of Composition at the University of York.