Biography

About Bekah Simms

Photography by Josephine Norman "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

Bekah Simms (b. 1990) is a Toronto-based composer and educator originally from St. John’s, Newfoundland who was recently 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" and possessing "a tremendous ear for foreground, background, blending and instrumental colour" (Nick Storring), Bekah's music consists of a highly varied output using a wide variety of mediums, including solo works with electronics, chamber music, opera, wind ensemble, and orchestra. Propelled by a simultaneous fascination and terror of the universe, Bekah’s works often grapple with both physical and psychological curiosities as understood by human experience. Among her compositional interests is the interaction of acoustic instruments and the human voice, be it through singing, sounding, or somewhere in between.

Bekah's music has been supported by both the Toronto and Ontario Arts Councils, and featured from coast to coast in Canada, the United States, and Europe. She is an alumna of several prestigious composer training institutes, including Yale’s Norfolk New Music Workshop, June in Buffalo, and the Array Young Composers' Workshop. She is a member of the Toy Piano Composers and Co-Artistic Director and co-founder of Caution Tape Sound Collective, an endeavour inspired by her commitment to experimentation and exploration within her practice. Caution Tape Sound Collective has received the support of both the Ontario Arts Council and the SOCAN Foundation.

Bekah has received over twenty awards, prizes, and call-for-scores selections. She has received honours from organizations including the International Society for Contemporary Music, the Canadian University Music Society, Association of Canadian Women Composers, Sandbox Percussion, New Fangled Opera, North American New Opera Workshop, Newfoundland Arts and Letters, the Lyra Society, the Flute New Music Consortium, CelloLoft, a very small consortium, and the Zvi Zeitlin Memorial International Composer's Competition.

As an educator and conductor, Bekah holds a B.Mus.Ed.from Memorial University, which included teaching group lessons for junior band members and conducting a beginner concert band. 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. She has a passion for conducting and working with singers which was strengthed by a year leading musical skills tutorials as a Teaching Assistant at the University of Toronto. She also conducted for the inaugural Sidenote concert in the summer of 2015, combining her conducting and new music passions. Currently, Bekah is a teaching assistant for Styles in Composition and Computer Applications in Music at the University of Toronto.

Bekah is currently a DMA student in Composition at the University of Toronto, where her studies with Gary Kulesha have been funded by an Ontario Graduate Scholarship. While at the U of T, Bekah has received 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 is also currently studying privately with Montreal-based electroacoustic composer Martin Bédard, whose mentorship is being facilitated through the PIVOT program. Former teachers include Andrew Staniland, Christos Hatzis, Norbert Palej, Clark Ross, as well as lessons and masterclasses with Salvatore Sciarrino, Hans Abrahamsen, Martin Bresnick, Linda Catlin Smith, 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 serves as Secretary. She is also the outreach coordinator of Toronto-based sound art presenter New Adventures in Sound Art.



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