Thomas Simaku receives PRS Foundation Award

Posted on 10 September 2018

York composer receives grant for a new CD with the department's Artist-in-Association and York alumnus, to be released by the Swedish label BIS Records.


Dr Thomas Simaku, Reader in Composition in the Department of Music at York, has received a PRS Foundation award from the Composers’ Fund in association with Esmée Fairbairn Foundation. The grant of £10,000 will contribute substantially towards the cost of recording and producing a new CD on the Swedish Label BIS Records.

The CD will include two string quartets, works for solo piano and a piano quintet. String Quartet No 4 was written especially for Quatuor Diotima, University of York's Artist-in-Association, who gave the world premiere at Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival (HCMF) in 2011 followed by performances at Alicante International Festival and the University of York. The work was broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and RTE – the Spanish National Radio. 

Dedicated to Terry Holmes, String Quartet No 5 was commissioned by HCMF and received its world premiere in 2015. The idea for this work stems from the composer’s impressions of Berlin during his DAAD residency in the once-divided city. The piano works include Simaku’s Hommage à Kurtág and a new piece for Joseph Houston; and the musicians come together in the piano quintet, con-ri-sonanza – Bill Colleran in Memoriam. The works presented in this CD are all interconnected at various levels, as are the sonic qualities embedded in this title: consonanza, risonanza, con risonanza. 

On receiving this award, Thomas Simaku said:

‘I have worked with the Paris-based Quatuor Diotima for a decade now; and my collaboration with British pianist Joseph Houston, now based in Berlin, began when he was an undergraduate at York. This award from PRS Foundation is most timely, and will take my collaboration with these amazing musicians to a new level’.

Thomas Simaku’s music has been reaching audiences across Europe, USA, and further afield for some thirty years, and it has been awarded a host of accolades for its expressive qualities and its unique blend of intensity and modernism. In recent years Simaku has focused on a cycle of highly virtuosic solo pieces for various instruments; his Soliloquy V – Flauto Acerbo received a BASCA Award, which the judging panel described as visionary and entirely original.

Major works include Concerto for Orchestra – the winning work of the LutosÅ‚awski Prize (2013), and The Scream for String Orchestra (2017) based on the iconic painting by Munch. Dedicated to Robin Boyle, this piece was premiered at King’s Chapel in Cambridge by the BBC Concert Orchestra in November, and broadcast on Radio 3. 

An excerpt of a video recording of Thomas Simaku's String Quartet No 4

Read more about Thomas Simaku