As a conductor Simon Wright has earned universal respect and acclaim for his interpretations of wide-ranging and of challenging orchestral and choral repertoire. Throughout his professional career, which has also embraced roles as organist, accompanist, arranger and teacher, he has become established as a musician of enormous integrity, winning the admiration of musicians, audiences and critics alike.
Born in Sunderland, Simon was educated at Chetham’s School, Manchester and at the Royal Manchester College of Music. A regular accompanist of the Hallé Choir, often working with Sir John Barbirolli, he won, at the age of 16, a scholarship to the Royal Manchester College. In the UK, Simon has conducted many British orchestras including the Philharmonia, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, BBC Philharmonic, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, English Northern Philharmonia, English Chamber Orchestra, Northern Sinfonia and Manchester Camerata. He has also conducted student orchestras at the Royal Academy of Music and Trinity College of Music in London and the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow.
A prize-winner in the 1986 Leeds Conducting Competition, Simon has been Conductor and Artistic Adviser of the Leeds Festival Chorus since 1975 and Musical Director and Principal Conductor of the York Guildhall Orchestra since 1992.
He is deeply committed to the music of the 20th and 21st centuries and has conducted many orchestral and choral premières, including Sir Peter Maxwell Davies’ Canticum Canticorum and Dominic Muldowney’s The Fall of Jerusalem, both with the Leeds Festival Chorus and the BBC Philharmonic, David Gow’s Marimba Concerto with Evelyn Glennie and the York Guildhall Orchestra, Michael Stimpson’s Clouds of War with the Tallis Chamber Choir and English Chamber Orchestra and, most recently, David Matthews’ Fanfares and Flowers with the Trinity College of Music Wind Orchestra, Geoffrey Kinder’s The Bells of London Town with the Leeds Festival Chorus and Judith Bingham’s Shakespeare Requiem with the Leeds Festival Chorus and the BBC Philharmonic. Simon has toured extensively within Europe, and made his American début in New York in 1986.
Recordings, both as conductor and keyboard player, with John Wallace OBE, the Wallace Collection and with the Philharmonia form a major part of his discography which includes recordings on the EMI, Nimbus, Collins Classics, GMN and IMP Masters labels. In 2003 he made his début with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, conducting a recording of British trumpet concertos with John Wallace, a recording which was released on the Sanctuary Classics label in January 2006. In January 2006, Simon made his début with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and Chorus recording Elgar’s Music Makers and Sea Pictures with Sarah Connolly for Naxos. This recording was released in December 2006 and was nominated for a 2008 Grammy Award.
Recent among his European engagements have been recordings and concerts with the Philharmonisches Staatsorchester Bremen and the Philharmonie und Kammerphilharmonie des Mitteldeutschen Rundfunks Leipzig. Recent engagements have also taken him to the USA, Canada, Italy, France, Germany, Switzerland and Spain as well as to the Caribbean with the English Chamber Orchestra, Viktoria Mullova and Mischa Maisky and to Oman. For four years he conducted the English Chamber Orchestra at the Classical Brit Awards and broadcast on national television, working with Plácido Domingo, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Renée Fleming, Bryn Terfel, Andrea Bocelli and Sir James Galway.
In April 2007 Simon made his début with the London Philharmonic Orchestra in a televised concert from the Royal Albert Hall; he returned to conduct the orchestra again in December that year. In December 2007 he also made his début with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and in April 2008 he conducted the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra for the first time. In December 2010 he made his début with the Ulster Orchestra – and in October 2011, he travelled to South Africa for the first time to conduct the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra in three concerts. Future engagements inlude concerts with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra.
In July 2018 Simon was awarded an Honorary Fellowship of the York St John University.
Text dated September 2018