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.
In the UK
Simon has conducted many British orchestras including the Philharmonia, BBC Philharmonic, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, English Northern Philharmonia, English Chamber Orchestra, Northern Sinfonia and Manchester Camerata. He made his début with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in 2004 and returned to conduct the orchestra three times in 2006. He has also recently conducted student orchestras at the Royal Academy of Music and Trinity College of Music in London. 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.
For four years running Simon conducted the English Chamber Orchestra at the Classical Brit Awards held in the Royal Albert Hall and broadcast on national television, working with such soloists as Plácido Domingo, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Renée Fleming, Bryn Terfel, Andrea Bocelli and Sir James Galway.
He is deeply committed to the music of the 20th and 21st centuries and has conducted many orchestral and choral premières, including Dominic Muldowney’s The Fall of Jerusalem, the British première of Sir Peter Maxwell Davies’ Canticum Canticorum, 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.
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. Also in January, 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 to critical acclaim.
Simon has toured extensively within Europe, appearing at many major festivals, including Edinburgh, and made his American début in New York in 1986. 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 and Spain as well as to the Caribbean, with the English Chamber Orchestra, and Oman.
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. Four years later he was appointed Organist of the Benedictine foundation at Ampleforth Abbey in North Yorkshire, a post which he relinquished in Summer 2005.