Growing up in Chapel Hill in the 80s and 90s.
Chapel Hill is well known for its combination of cosmopolitan intellectual life and laid-back, small-town Southern charm. These qualities certainly characterized the musical world I grew up in there during the 80’s and 90’s and created a culture of openness and curiosity in the arts. Between Suzuki group lessons, seasonal guest teachers and conventions, youth orchestras, and summer
camps, the opportunities to play violin were considerable. Additionally, good local musicians of all stripes were friendly and accessible, authentic bluegrass jam sessions were held out in Orange County (if you could find them), and most Cat’s Cradle shows were all ages.
I am especially grateful for the 13-plus years I got to study violin with Mary Frances Boyce. She took my ideas seriously from a very young age and always encouraged me to focus on whatever most interested me, whether it was composition, music history, or playing in a rock band. When I left Chapel Hill to study at a conservatory, I met many musicians whose talent and technique far surpassed my own but very few who had as broad musical experience or as much enthusiasm for pursuing their own creative vision—two
traits especially cultivated by the Chapel Hill music scene.
Simon studied violin with Kevin Lawrence at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts and graduated with honors from Rice University with a B.M. in Music Composition. Working under a dissertation fellowship from the Mellon Foundation, he completed his Ph.D. in Music Composition at the University of Chicago. His mentors included Marta Ptaszynska and Shulamit Ran in composition and Howard Sandroff in computer music. He has taught at the University of Chicago, Missouri Western State University, and William Jewell College and serves on the Executive Board of KcEMA (Kansas City Electronic Music & Arts Alliance).
Simon is a composer of acoustic and electronic music. His work has abiding interests in Americana, song form(s), and multimedia. Recent pieces have included The Open Boat, an electroacoustic opera based on the work of Stephen Crane premiered by Black House Collective http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kC_nEzhxNlo, MIC CHECK, a commission from the Assembly Saxophone Quartet, and a collaborative performance with choreographer Jane Gotch as part of Breathe, a multimedia installation by visual artist Carrie Scanga.
Simon’s music has been played and premiered by Grammy-winning artists eighth blackbird, the Pacifica Quartet, the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Kevin McMillan, and Ian Howell, among many other outstanding musicians. He has won honorable recognition from organizations like the American Composers Forum, the New York Youth Symphony, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and his music has been featured at festivals and conferences including MATA, the Staunton Music Festival, and the MoMA (NY) Documentary Fortnight Festival. He has been a fellow at the Aspen Music Festival, the MacDowell Colony, and the I-Park Artists’ Enclave.
Simon’s electronic work juxtaposes the aesthetics of the natural and the technological and is frequently collaborative in nature. In 2009 he became the first composer to win an ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composers Award for a piece incorporating electronics (Electric Pastoral). In 2011 he was awarded a prize for his site-specific, electro-acoustic collaboration, Dock & Load, at the Music in Architecture — Architecture in Music Symposium at the University of Texas. Simon worked as a recording intern at Houston’s renowned Sugar Hill Recording Studios, and his music has been featured in concerts by S.E.A.M.U.S, Electronic Music
Midwest, and C.C.R.M.A. at Stanford.
Simon’s other interests include a fascination with American folk music. While in Texas, he performed as a fiddler alongside some of the state’s most distinguished traditional players, Alvin Crow and Valerie Ryals O’Briens. Simon’s folk/pop project, Still Lost Bird Music, was featured on the record-breaking popular iPhone game Tap Tap Revenge and released its second album, a lush cycle of (mostly) turn-of-the century text-settings, on DashGo Records in 2011.
Simon Fink, Ph.D.