Biography

About Bekah Simms



"In fact, if one were told so, the sounds that begin in the opening bars (comprised of "raunchy overblown" bass clarinet tone, bowed cymbals and bass sul ponticelli), could easily pass for the result of an actual spectral convolution between a screaming singer and some sort of fuzz-saturated guitar tone..." - Canadian Music Centre Library Residency Blog

"With her brilliant debut [album], Bekah Simms immediately positions herself at the vanguard of contemporary composers...Brash and uncompromising, Impurity Chains is by no means an album for casual listeners, but anyone looking for a truly exciting, innovative and evolved take on contemporary composition should be utterly enthralled by the extraordinary vision presented here by Bekah Simms." - Exclaim!

"Good music for Halloween and graveyards" - attendee at "impurity chains" release concert

Bio (EN)


JUNO Award-nominated composer Bekah Simms' varied output has been heralded as “cacophonous, jarring, oppressive — and totally engrossing!” (CBC Music) and “tough, even gutsy...with a sure sense of original and vibrant colours” (Vancouver Sun). Propelled equally by fascination and terror toward the universe, her work is often filtered through the personal lens of her anxiety, resulting in nervous, messy, and frequently heavy musical landscapes. Foremost among her current compositional interests is quotation and the friction between recognizability and complete obfuscation.

Bekah hails from St. John's, Newfoundland but is currently Toronto-based. Her music has been widely broadcast in Canada and the United States, performed across Canada, in over a dozen American states, Italy, Germany, France, Austria, Lithuania, and the UK and interpreted by a diverse range of top-tier performers including Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Esprit Orchestra, Continuum Contemporary Music, the Victoria Symphony Orchestra, Ensemble Télémaque, Ensemble Paramirabo, TorQ Percussion Quartet, and Duo Concertante. Upcoming commissions include new works for the Ensemble contemporain de Montréal, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Standing Wave, and more.

In addition to commission and recording funding from the Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council, and Toronto Arts Council, Bekah has been the recipient of over 25 awards and prizes, including the 2019 Barlow Prize, the 2018 Karen Kieser Prize in Canadian Music, and the 2017 Toronto Emerging Composer Award. Works from her debut album impurity chains were nominated in both 2019 and 2020 for the JUNO Award for Classical Composition of the Year. Her music has twice been included in the Canadian Section's official submission to World Music Days (2016 & 2019), and in 2016 the CBC included her among their annual 30 hot classical musicians under 30.

Bekah holds a D.M.A. and M.Mus in music composition from the University of Toronto where her principal teacher was Gary Kulesha, and a B.Mus.Ed. and B.Mus in theory/composition from Memorial University of Newfoundland where her prinicipal teacher was Andrew Staniland. She also engaged in private study with Clara Iannotta in Berlin and Martin Bédard in Montreal.

Bio (FR)


Mise en nomination aux prix Juno, la compositrice Bekah Simms écrit de la musique « nuancée et complexe » (revue NOW), mais aussi « cacophonique, brusque, oppressante et totalement captivante! » (CBC Music). À la fois fascinée et terrifiée par le cosmos, elle compose derrière un voile d’anxiété. Par ailleurs, elle s’intéresse grandement aux citations musicales et à la friction entre le connu et le masqué. Née à Saint-Jean de Terre-Neuve, Bekah Simms est aujourd’hui établie à Toronto. Ses œuvres sont interprétées d’un bout à l’autre du Canada, dans une douzaine d’États américains, en Italie,en France, en Allemagne, en Autriche, en Lituanie et au Royaume-Uni, par des formations renommées comme l’Esprit Orchestra, la société de musique contemporaine Continuum, l’Orchestre symphonique de Victoria, le Quatuor Madawaska, le quatuor de percussionnistes TorQ, ainsi que le Duo Concertante. Outre les subventions qu’elle reçoit des conseils des arts du Canada, de l’Ontario et de Toronto pour la composition et l’enregistrement de ses partitions, Bekah Simms est également lauréate de plus de 25 prix ou choix du jury, dont l’édition 2017 du Toronto Emerging Composer Award et l’édition 2018 du prix de musique canadienne Karen-Kieser. Son œuvre Granitic a été mise en nomination pour l’édition 2019 du prix Juno pour la composition classique de l’année. De plus, ses partitions ont fait partie à deux reprises — en 2016 et en 2019 — de la sélection officielle du Canada à l’occasion des Journées mondiales de la musique. En 2016, elle a été inscrite par la Société Radio-Canada sur sa liste des 30 meilleurs musiciens classiques de moins de 30 ans. Bekah Simms détient un doctorat et une maîtrise en composition musicale de l’Université de Toronto, et deux baccalauréats — en éducation musicale et en théorie et composition — de l’Université Memorial de Terre-Neuve.

Bio (long; website-only)


Bekah Simms (b. 1990) is a Toronto-based JUNO Award-nominated composer and educator originally from St. John's, Newfoundland who was named by CBC as one of Canada's hot 30 classical musicians under 30 and the winner of the 2017 Toronto Emerging Composer Award. With work described as "deliciously disorienting" (Nick Storring), "relentlessly creative...truly exciting, innovative and evolved" (Exclaim!), and "nuanced and complex" (NOW Toronto), Bekah is increasingly known as a highly individual composer redefining classical music. Her music consists of a highly varied output using a wide variety of media, including electroacoustic and acousmatic works, chamber music, opera, wind ensemble, and orchestra. Propelled by a simultaneous fascination and terror of the universe, Bekah's music is usually filtered through the lens of personal anxiety. Among her current compositional interests is the interaction of quotation, obfuscation, and distorted elements.

Bekah's music has been performed and commissioned by first-class ensembles and soloists, including the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Victoria Symphony Orchestra, Continuum Contemporary Music, Esprit Orchestra, the Array Ensemble, the Madawaska Quartet, and Duo Concertante. Her works have been presented at the Toronto Symphony Orchestra's New Creations Festival, the Royal Conservatory of Music's 21C Festival, and New Adventures in Sound Art's Sound Travels Festival of Sound Art, among others. Many of her chamber and solo works featuring distortive elements are featured on impurity chains, a portrait album released through Centrediscs on September, 2018.

The creation and recording of Bekah's music has been supported by the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, the Toronto Arts Council, and the Department of Canadian Heritage, and featured from coast to coast in Canada, the United States, and in Italy, Germany, France, Austria, Lithuania, and the UK. She is an alumna of several prestigious composer training institutes, including Yale's Norfolk New Music Workshop, June in Buffalo, Banff Centre for the Arts, Soundstreams' Emerging Composer Workshop, and the Array Young Composers' Workshop. She is the co-founder of Caution Tape Sound Collective alongside August Murphy-King, and served as Co-Artistic Director from 2015-2019. Caution Tape received the support of the SOCAN Foundation, the Toronto Arts Council, and the Ontario Arts Council.

Bekah has received over twenty-five awards, prizes, and call-for-scores selections. She has received prizes and call-for-scores selections from organizations including the Barlow Endowment, the International Society for Contemporary Music, GroundSwell, the Canadian Music Centre, the Canadian University Music Society, Association of Canadian Women Composers, New Fangled Opera, North American New Opera Workshop, Etobicoke Philharmonic Orchestra, Grains of Sound New Music Festival, Verdant Vibes, Newfoundland Arts and Letters, the Lyra Society, the Flute New Music Consortium, and the Zvi Zeitlin Memorial International Composer's Competition.

As an educator, Bekah holds a B.Mus.Ed. (K-12, choral & instrumental) from Memorial University. She spent three months teaching rock and pop-based classroom music, as well as leading the choral program, at Burnt Mill Academy - a performing arts middle school in Harlow, UK. SInce then, Bekah's teaching experience has largely been in the post-secondary realm as a Teaching Assistant at the University of Toronto. In this capacity, she has taught a number of tutorials and lectures in a wide variety of courses including Styles in Composition, Topics in Composition I and II, Computer Applications in Music, and Musical Skills. In her final year as a TA, she was nominated by her students for a TA Teaching Excellence Award. In her role as Outreach Coordinator at New Adventures in Sound Art, she has led and assisted in delivering sound art workshops to both children and young adults during public school visits and day camps. She has served as a composition mentor for Esprit Orchestra's Ontario Resonance project and the Waterloo Region Contemporary Music Sessions. She is increasingly an invited guest for composition seminars and festivals, including at Simon Fraser University, the University of British Columbia, Memorial University of Newfoundland, and ONSOUND Electronic Music Festival.

Bekah holds a DMA from the University of Toronto, where she received the prestigious William and Phyllis Waters Graduating Award upon completion. Her composition studies with Gary Kulesha were twice funded by an Ontario Graduate Scholarship. While at the U of T, Bekah received the Karen Kieser Prize in Canadian Music and numerous grants to fund travel to premieres, including a School of Graduate Studies Conference Grant and several Faculty of Music travel grants. Bekah also holds degrees in Theory/Composition and Music Education from Memorial University of Newfoundland.

Bekah has also engaged in long-term private study outside of academic institutions, including a 3 month residency in Berlin to study with Clara Iannotta supported by the Canada Council for the Arts as well as a 6-month private mentoring study with Montreal-based electroacoustic composer Martin Bédard facilitated through the PIVOT program. Former teachers include Andrew Staniland, Christos Hatzis, Norbert Palej, Dennis Patrick, Clark Ross, as well as lessons and masterclasses with Salvatore Sciarrino, Linda Catlin Smith, Hans Abrahamsen, Unsuk Chin, Anna Thorvaldsdottir, George Lewis, Pierluigi Billone, Mark Andre, Toshio Hosokawa, Martin Bresnick, Chris Paul Harman, Sabrina Schroeder, Christopher Butterfield, Chinary Ung, Michael Colgrass, Mario Garuti, Christopher Theofanidis, and Amy Beth Kirsten.

Bekah is an Associate Composer of the Canadian Music Centre and a member of the Canadian League of Composers, SOCAN, and the Association of Canadian Women Composers, where she served as Secretary from 2016-2018. She is also a member of the Music Gallery's Artistic Advisory Council.



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