Carlos Simon

Described by the Los Angeles Times as a composer who “refashions musical history as excitable new realms with an unmistakable musical purpose essential for our times,” Carlos Simon is a multi-faceted and highly sought-after Grammy-nominated composer and curator. His music ranges from concert music for large and small ensembles to film scores with influences of jazz, gospel and neo-romanticism. Simon is the current composer-in-residence for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.  

Last season saw premiere performances with Minnesota Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra, Washington National Opera (with Mo Willems) and Brooklyn Art Song Society, following recent other commissions from New York Philharmonic and Bravo! Vail, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Glimmerglass Festival, Sphinx Organization, Music Academy of the West and San Francisco Chamber Orchestra. 

His work is also being performed by Boston Symphony Orchestra/Andris Nelsons, London Symphony Orchestra/Andre Thomas, New York Philharmonic/Jaap van Zweden, National Symphony Orchestra/Gianandrea Noseda, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra/Peter Oundjian, Washington National Ballet (choreographed by Donald Byrd) and American Ballet Theatre (choreographed by Christopher Rudd), as well as instrumentalists such as Alisa Weilerstein, J’Nai Bridges, Imani Winds and Hilary Hahn. 

Simon's work spans genres, taking great inspiration from liturgical texts and writers such as Terrance Hayes, Colson Whitehead, Lynn Nottage, Emma Lazarus, Isabel Wilkerson, Ruby Aiyo Gerber and Courtney Lett, as well as the art of Romare Bearden.

His latest album, “Requiem for the Enslaved,” is a multi-genre musical tribute to commemorate the stories of the 272 enslaved men, women and children sold in 1838 by Georgetown University. Released by Decca in June 2022, this work sees Simon infuse his original compositions with African American spirituals and familiar Catholic liturgical melodies, performed by Hub New Music Ensemble, Marco Pavé and MK Zulu. “Requiem for the Enslaved” was nominated for a 2023 Grammy Award for best contemporary classical composition.

Since earning his doctorate degree at the University of Michigan, where he studied with Michael Daugherty and Evan Chambers, he has also received degrees from Georgia State University and Morehouse College. He is an honorary member of Phi Mu Alpha Music Sinfonia Fraternity and a member of the National Association of Negro Musicians, Society of Composers International and Pi Kappa Lambda Music Honor Society. He has served as a member of the music faculty at Spelman College and Morehouse College in Atlanta and now serves as assistant professor at Georgetown University. Simon also won the 2021 Sphinx Medal of Excellence, the highest honor bestowed by the Sphinx Organization to recognize extraordinary classical Black and Latinx musicians. He was named a Sundance/Time Warner Composer Fellow for his work for film and moving image.

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