About Bekah Simms

"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!

"Du néant voilà un bruitisme exquis !" - jury member of Generation 2020

"Bekah Simms is a composer and deep listener creating strongly intuitive and formally striking work seeded in a technique that is ever-evolving yet integrated seamlessly with the music itself." - 2022 Gaudeamus Award jury

Tough, even gutsy...with a sure sense of original and vibrant colours” - Vancouver Sun

"Every instrument sounds like it wants to eat the listener. Will the symphonies of the future sound like this? If so, we can’t wait." - A Closer Listen

"World-class sound magic" - Scott Gray, Irregular Dreams

"...from the tumultuous and grotesque to the sublime and fleetingly extra-imaginative avant-garde style full of movement, bold colors, mystery and sharp contrasts far beyond the established norms of modernist work" - Petr Procházka, Kulturní Magazín

Bio (EN)

JUNO award-winning composer Bekah Simms hails from St. John's, Newfoundland and is currently based in Glasgow after nine years living and working in Toronto. Her varied musical output has been heralded as “cacophonous, jarring, oppressive — and totally engrossing!” (CBC Music), “visceral contemporary music that enfolds external inspirations with dazzling rigor and logic” (Peter Margasak), and lauded for its "sheer range of ingenious material, expressive range and sonic complexity" (The Journal of Music.) 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 electroacoustic musical landscapes. Recent interests in just intonation and virtual instruments have resulted in increasingly lush and strange harmonic environments.

Bekah's music has been widely performed across North America and Europe including at the Gaudeamus Festival, Wien Modern, Music on Main, ACHT BRÜCKEN, and New Music Dublin, premieres at the latter which were twice described as "highlights of the festival" by the Journal of Music in 2021 and 2024. She has worked with some of the top interpreters of contemporary music internationally, including Crash Ensemble - with whom she is currently an artist-in-residence - Riot Ensemble, Quatuor Bozzini, Eighth Blackbird, and l’Ensemble Contemporain de Montréal. Bekah has also been the recipient of over 40 awards, competitive selections, nominations, and prizes, including a 2024 Guggenheim Fellowship, the 2019 Barlow Prize, and the 2023 JUNO Award for Classical Composition of the Year. Her piece "metamold" was nominated for the 2022 Gaudeamus Award. She has received three JUNO nominations for Classical Composition of the Year in 2019, 2020, and 2023. Her chamber orchestra + electronics album Bestiaries was released in 2022 to critical acclaim and was included on several year end best-of lists from the US, Canada, Italy, and the UK. Her music has thrice been included in the Canadian Section's official submission to World Music Days (2016, 2019, & 2021) and in 2023 was chosen for inclusion in the 2024 World New Music Days in Tórshavn, Faroe Islands as an independent submission. In 2016 the CBC included her among their annual 30 hot classical musicians under 30.

Bekah is a Lecturer at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, following previous academic positions at the University of Toronto and University of Western Ontario. She holds a D.M.A. and M.Mus in music composition from the University of Toronto, and a B.Mus.Ed. and B.Mus in theory/composition from Memorial University of Newfoundland. Her principal teachers during academic studies were Gary Kulesha and Andrew Staniland, alongside significant private study with Clara Iannotta and Martin Bédard.

Bio (FR)

Bekah Simms, compositrice lauréate d’un prix Juno, est originaire de Terre-Neuve, au Canada, et est actuellement installée à Glasgow après avoir vécu et travaillé pendant neuf ans à Toronto. Sa production musicale variée a été qualifiée de «cacophonique, dérangeante, oppressante — et totalement captivante» (CBC Music), de «musique contemporaine viscérale qui intègre des inspirations externes avec une rigueur et une logique éblouissantes» (Peter Margasak), et saluée pour «l’étendue même du matériel ingénieux, de la gamme expressive et de la complexité sonore» (The Journal of Music). Elle a travaillé avec certains des meilleurs interprètes de musique contemporaine au monde, notamment le Crash Ensemble — avec lequel elle est actuellement artiste en résidence —, le Riot Ensemble, Quatuor Bozzini, Eighth Blackbird et l’Ensemble Contemporain de Montréal. Bekah a également reçu plus de 35 prix, sélections compétitives, nominations et récompenses, dont le prix Barlow 2019, le prix Juno 2023 pour la composition classique de l’année, et une nomination pour le prix Gaudeamus 2022. Elle est chargée de cours en composition au Conservatoire royal d’Écosse.

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 Crash Ensemble, 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, Ireland, 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, impuls Academy, 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 thirty awards, prizes, and call-for-scores selections. These honours come 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 currents holds a post as Lecturer in Composition at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, consistently ranked as one of the top ten performing arts institutions worldwide. There, she primarily teaches one-to-one graduate and undergraduate tutorials alongside seminars on repertoire and general compositional concerns. This post follows previous academic positions at the University of Toronto as Sessional Teaching Staff and the University of Western Ontario as an Assistant Professor. She held a wide variety of Teaching Assistant positions while a grad student at the University of Toronto, including teaching 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. 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. 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 the Tuckamore Festival, PIVOT, Esprit Orchestra's Ontario Resonance project, and Waterloo Region Contemporary Music Sessions. She is increasingly an invited guest for composition seminars and festivals, including at the University of York, Simon Fraser University, University of British Columbia, Université de Montréal, York University, MacEwan University, 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.

youtube icon     soundcloud icon