Simon Bainbridge (b.1952) studied composition with John Lambert at the Royal College of Music and with Gunther Schuller at Tanglewood. He is Head of Composition at the Royal Academy of Music, London.

The success of Bainbridge’s Spirogyra at the 1971 Aldeburgh Festival led to a string quartet commission, which in turn brought him to the attention of violist Walter Trampler who commissioned the Viola Concerto in 1978 (on NMC D126). A series of large scale works followed during the 1980s and 90s, including Fantasia for Double Orchestra (1983), Double Concerto (1990), Toccata for Orchestra (1992), the horn concerto Landscape and Memory (1995) and Three Pieces for Orchestra (1998).

In 1997 Bainbridge won the Grawemeyer Award for Ad Ora Incerta (1993), an orchestral song cycle for mezzo soprano and bassoon on poems by Primo Levi. The composer returned to the writer’s work in 1996 in his Four Primo Levi Settings composed for the Nash Ensemble. Both works have been recorded by NMC Recordings (on Ad ora incerta).

Chant, a re-working of Hildegard of Bingen for 12 amplified voices and orchestra, was given its premiere in York Minster by the BBC Singers and BBC Philharmonic in 1999. In celebration of its seventieth anniversary in 2000, the BBC Symphony Orchestra commissioned Scherzi. The piece has subsequently been performed at the Last Night of the BBC Proms in 2005 and by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in 2007. Voiles (2002), for solo bassoon and 12 strings, was commissioned by Radio France for soloist Pascal Gallois, and performed by him in France and the UK. In 2007 the BBC Symphony Orchestra gave the world premiere of Diptych.

Bainbridge’s most significant project of recent years is Music Space Reflection, a work for 28 players inspired by and designed to be performed inside buildings designed by architect Daniel Libeskind. Jointly commissioned by the Imperial War Museum North in Manchester and Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, the piece has also been performed at the Copenhagen Jewish Museum and as a concert work at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, London.

Image credit: 
Andrew Palmer