Simon Desbruslais

Simon Desbruslais is a British trumpet soloist, whose performances have been critically acclaimed as ‘steel-lipped’, ‘musically compelling’ and possessing ‘supreme confidence and flair’. Equally active in baroque and contemporary music, Simon has recorded extensively for Signum Classics including Psalm: Contemporary British Trumpet Concertos, an album of trumpet works written for him by John McCabe, Robert Saxton and Deborah Pritchard, and most recently The Art of Dancing which includes new double concertos for trumpet, piano and string orchestra by Toby Young, Geoffrey Gordon and Nimrod Borenstein. Radio and Television broadcasts form an integral output to Simon’s work and over the last decade he has performed live on BBC 1 Television, BBC Radio 3 & 4 and German Radio SWR2 to millions of viewers and listeners worldwide.

A crucial element of Simon’s career involves working with composers to create and champion new works involving the trumpet. This has ranged from chamber works, such as trumpet and piano, to full-scale concertos and more unusual combinations such as trumpet with choir, or with string quartet. Simon has a particular commitment to British music – composers who have written with his sound and technique in mind include, among others, Edwin Roxburgh, John McCabe, John Traill, Deborah Pritchard, Lola Perrin, Luke Bedford, Toby Young, Tomas Yardley and Tom Armstrong.

Since his breakthrough season in 2012/13, Simon has given concerto performances in China and Brazil, appeared as soloist with Royal Northern Sinfonia, English Symphony Orchestra, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Orchestra of the Swan, Charivari Agréable, Brook Street Band, Ensemble Diderot and London Concertante, and as a guest chamber musician with the Ligeti Quartet, Austral Harmony, Little Venice Ensemble and Ensemble Perpetuo. He has given solo performances at the Ryedale, Wymondham, Bangor New Music, North York Moors, Deal, and Rheine Vokal festivals, on the beach of Vik in Iceland, and appeared as a concerto soloist on the natural trumpet at the Wigmore Hall. He has also developed lasting overseas collaborations with the Iceland Academy of the Arts, Tianjin Normal University in China and the Janáek Academy of Music in Brno. Simon is fortunate to maintain active duo partnerships with pianist Clare Hammond and organist Stephen Farr, among many other fine musicians.

Simon was educated at King’s College London and the Royal College of Music, winning numerous prizes and scholarships. He was then a private student of Eric Aubier in the Conservatoire à Rayonnement Régional de Rueil-Malmaison. Keen to expand on the relationship between performance and musicology, Simon holds a doctorate from Christ Church, Oxford, on the music theory of Paul Hindemith, which was published in book form by Boydell & Brewer in February 2018. He is Lecturer in Music at the University of Hull, where he is also Director of Performance, having previously taught at the universities of Bristol, Nottingham, King’s College London and Surrey. Simon is also currently external examiner for the Royal College of Music undergraduate programme. His research into historical trumpets led to a recording on artefacts held by the Oxford Bate Collection, which included the first recordings of music on the nineteenth-century, long ‘Bach’ trumpet, among other historical curiosities. Simon acknowledges the generous support of Arts Council England, Ralph Vaughan Williams Trust, Britten Pears Foundation and Help Musicians UK.

  • Simon Desbruslais returns to disc on Signum with an album that continues to expand the repertoire of the trumpet even further, with four new commissions for Trumpet, Piano and String Orchestra Toby Young’s The Art of Dancing is described by the composer as being ‘a modern homage to the baroque dance suite’, drawing inspiration from modern dance music styles including Acid House, Garage and Drum & Bass. Geoffrey Gordon’s Saint Blue is inspired by the visionary artist Wassily Kandinsky, creating a double concerto with a remarkable jazz-inspired cadenza between the trumpet, piano and double bass. Deborah Pritchard’s Seven Halts on the Somme responds to the series of oil paintings by artist Hughie O’Donoghue that mark seven stopping points for British troops during the Battle of the Somme – one of the most bloody conflicts of the First World War. Finally, Nimrod Borensteins’ Concerto for Piano, Trumpet and String Orchestra juxtaposes rhythms to create a multiplicity of different atmospheres in this highly effective and powerful work. For these premiere recordings Simon Desbruslais performs with pianist Clare Hammond, accompanied by the English String Orchestra under Kenneth Woods. ★★★★ Beautifully performed, highly original discBBC Music Magazine Simon Debruslais continues to expand the repertoire of his instrument with four new commissions… creating a double concerto with a remarkable jazz inspired cadenzaNorthern Echo  
  • Simon Desbruslais leads the performances on this disc of world premiere recordings from some of the UK’s leading composers. Seeking to expand the trumpet’s repertoire of concerto and orchestra works, Simon Desbruslais was inspired after performing Robert Saxton’s Psalm to help comission the three new works on this programme: Saxton’s Shakespeare Scenes, Deborah Pritchard’s Skyspace and John McCabe’s La Primavera. Four vibrant, attractive concertos – three written within the past three years – by three of Britain’s brightest and best, and performed with dazzling virtuosity and musicianship by Simon Desbruslais and the Orchestra of the Swan ... The concluding held note for the trumpet unaccompanied is just one sign of his consummate mastery. A hugely enjoyable disc, strongly recommendedGramophone Desbruslais's immaculate playing and faultless musicality serve all these works well. I do not think that his playing in these works could be bettered although I sincerely wish that these works were avidly seized upon by any adventurous trumpet playerMusicWeb International Four new British trumpet concertos, brilliant, seductive and engrossingPlanet Hugill
  • Welcome all Wonders: A Christmas Cantata is a large-scale work for choir, organ, and trumpet spanning 15 movements. It celebrates the Christmas story through an imaginative selection and juxtaposition of poetry and liturgical texts, and provides a multifaceted telling of the familiar narrative. The celebratory aspects of Christmas are tainted by darker themes that are inherent to the story but are easily overlooked, culminating in an enlightened and engaging work that explores the Christmas story in a profound manner. The Choir of The Queen’s College, Oxford is among the finest and most active university choirs in the UK. Its wide-ranging repertory includes a rich array of Renaissance and Baroque music and contemporary works. An excellent disc: the singing is incredibly tight, in the manner to which it has become increasingly accustomed under its musical director, Owen Rees, and Bednall’s writing is ingenious, embedded in a profound understanding of the workings of the choir and organ- both as distinct entries and as a partnership - Gramophone Magazine Bednall’s work makes a bright, immediate impression, the idiom, accessible without being superficial - BBC Music Magazine An original and very rewarding addition to the Christmas choral repertoire - MusicWeb International Bednall is honoured with what is surely a splendid performance from the Choir of Queen’s College, Oxford with organists Olivia Clark and Paul Manley and trumpeter Simon Desbruslais, directed by Owen Rees - International Record Review
  • Composing over 150 works for piano and voice over a period of 44 years, the songs of Francis Poulenc remain consistently popular to concert audiences the world over. Varying in their individual style and character in a way that defies generalization, Poulenc set music to a wide range of different French poetry – both ancient and modern, and from the serious to the surreal. The final disc in Signum’s series of The Complete Songs of Francis Poulenc features a cast of the finest singers of our generation, accompanied by Malcolm Martineau as well as additional instrumental soloists for Poulenc’s larger-ensemble settings of his songs.

    Featured works in this final volume include Rapsodie Negre, Le Bestiaire, Quatre poe?mes de Max Jacob, Vocalise, Quatre poemes d’Apollinaire, Banalite?s and Le Bal Masque?.

  • “This curious conglomeration of concertos is a celebration of contrasts”. Thus begins Kah-Ming Ng's introduction to this collection of works from the 18th century. Although none of the composers featured may be familiar, each work has been picked for it's fine technical skill and illuminating sound, taking inspiration from the 18th century definition of 'curious'' as being 'rare, excellent and fine'. Includes works by Paradis, Reichenauer, Berlin, Pepusch, Hertel, Croft and Baldassari. For those who know Pachelbel only through the Canon, this disc will be revelatory ... Each piece is beautifully served by the ensembleThe Sunday Times
    The title of the ensemble and their new disc are both pertinent, it’s an agreeable collection full of curiosities … Ng’s notes do a decent job of describing the impact of Vivaldi and his fellow Italians on the music scene in EnglandBBC Radio 3 Record Review The highlight is Pietro Domenico Paradies' aptly-titled A Favourite Concerto, a delightful harpsichord piece that affords the ensemble's director Kah-Ming Ng full rein to display his keyboard prowessThe Independent This is a disc for adventurous music-lovers who like to extend their horizon and are not satisfied with listening to the same masterpieces over and over again. Charivari Agréable deserve our congratulations with this 20th volume in their impressive discography. May many more followMusicWeb International
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