Alan Simon (musician)
|Birth name||Alan Simon|
|Born||3 July 1964|
|Origin||Nantes, Brittany France|
|Genres||Progressive rock, folk rock|
|Years active||1984 - present|
|Associated acts||Roger Hodgson, Fairport Convention|
|Website||Alan Simon official Website|
Alan Simon (born 3 July 1964) is a French folk-rock musician and composer best known for his rock operas which are performed with collaboration from other noted rock musicians. Simon is associated with Breton Celticism, and his most ambitious works are typically on themes linked to Celtic myth and history. Simon has also branched out into film-making.
Simon was born in Nantes, spending his early years in the moorlands of Goulaine. He left school at 15 to travel the world, supporting himself in a variety of trades. From 1979 to 1992 he lived in Asia. He also travelled twice around the world, financed by photographic work, journalism and musical performances. He also marketed his songs to rock musicians, having some success and building up contacts before he achieved fame.
He currently resides near Nantes.
At age 20 he wrote his first work, The Rebel Child, which won Grand Prize of the Society of Artists in France. In 1995, he composed his first musical story, Le Petit Arthur (Little Arthur) (Polygram), which became, three years later, one of the tools for learning the French language in Denmark. The story Les Enfants du Futur (The Children of the Future) (Walt Disney) was released in 1996 and brings together over 25 artists including Jean Reno, Albert Dupontel and Nilda Fernandez.
Simon achieved fame with his rock opera Excalibur, La Légende des Celtes (Excalibur, The Legend of the Celts) (Sony) in 1999, of which he was both songwriter and producer. The first part of an intended trilogy, Excalibur blended musical styles and was performed by Roger Hodgson (Supertramp), Fairport Convention, Dan Ar Braz, Tri Yann, Angelo Branduardi, Didier Lockwood, Gabriel Yacoub. Within weeks, the album went gold in France (Top 10). Five concert performances took place between October 1999 and June 2000, including one at Paris-Bercy. A live recording, released as Excalibur, le concert mythique ("Excalibur, the legendary concert") (CD and DVD) was recorded at the first performance in Rennes, October 12, 1999.
Gaia and other works
In the following year, Alan Simon collaborated with Roger Hodgson, former co-leader and co-founder of Supertramp on the album Open The Door. The album figured prominently in the rankings in France (Top 30), Spain (Top 5), Switzerland and Belgium. Simon wrote the last song on the album.
In 2003, he created GAIA (Universal / BMG / Sony), a humanitarian concept album dealing with the preservation of the environment and for which many artists responded to the call: Midnight Oil, Justin Hayward of The Moody Blues, Zucchero, Jane Birkin, Cesaria Evora, Billy Preston and others. GAIA, was played before 60,000 spectators in Zurich in early 2004. The album entered the Top five in Australia. He also published his first book, Gaia, carnets secrets de la planète bleue, published by Editions du Seuil in March 2003, which was a success in Switzerland and Belgium.
In 2004, he composed the song I have a dream for the anti-apartheid musical Sud Afrique. The group South African "Umoja" also performed Simon's song "The Way".
In 2005 Simon directed his first feature film, O Genghis which traces the odyssey of the last nomadic Mongol descendants of Genghis Khan. This film was shot in Russia and Asia (with contributions by Jean Reno and Omar Sharif). O Genghis was released in 20 countries and has been broadcast many times on Canal +.
Fascinated by the return of the wolf to French territory, Alan Simon wrote the 2006 screenplay Mon frère le loup (My brother the wolf). The project remains unrealised.
In 2007 he released the second part of "Excalibur", Excalibur II, l'anneau des Celtes ("Excalibur II, the ring of the Celts") with contributions from Jon Anderson (Yes), Alan Parsons, Barclay James Harvest, Maddy Prior, Jacqui McShee, John Wetton (King Crimson / Asia), Flook, Karan Casey, Fairport Convention, Andreas Vollenweider and Martin Barre.
Simon's novel, Excalibur, le cercle de Dragon (Excalibur, the circle of Dragon), was released in March 2008. A second volume was published in October 2009 called Excalibur, la prophétie de Merlin (Excalibur, The prophecy of Merlin).
March 2008 the Prog Rock Hall of Fame (based in Memphis) gave Simon two awards: best music producer of the year (for Excalibur II) and best songwriter of the year (for the track Circle Of Life performed by Jon Anderson).
On May 25 and July 25, 2009 "Excalibur" was revived in Germany under the English language title Excalbur: the Celtic Rock Opera. It was performed in English with a German narration. It triumphed before 19,000 people at Castle Kaltenberg. Faced with this surprising success, "Excalibur" toured throughout Germany and 100,000 spectators attended the Celtic rock opera reuniting nearly 160 musicians and almost as many technicians. A new tour began in January 2011 across Europe.
The final part of the trilogy, Excalibur III The Origins (Excalibur III: The Origins), was released in 2012.
Anne de Bretagne
In 2008 Alan Simon created the rock opera Anne de Bretagne. This ambitious work of 31 tracks tells the life story of Anne of Brittany, following the historical events that made her the last Duchess of independent Brittany and twice crowned queen of France. It was performed by Nilda Fernandez, Tri Yann, Barclay James Harvest, Fairport Convention, Pat O'May, Cécile Corbel (as Anne herself), Laurent Tixier, James Wood and an ensemble of 200 musicians.
The Chateau des Ducs de Bretagne in Nantes hosted the premiere of Anne de Bretagne on June 29–30, 2009 to 6000 people. The live performance was released as a CD and DVD.
As sole composer
- 1994: Le Petit Arthur (Conte musical)
- 1996: Les Enfants du Futur (Conte musical)
- 1999: Excalibur I, La Légende des Celtes (Folk Rock opera)
- 2000: Excalibur, Le Concert Mythique (live version, oct. 1999)
- 2003: GAIA
- 2007: Excalibur II, L'Anneau des Celtes
- 2009: Anne de Bretagne (Folk Rock opera)
- 15 March 2010 : "DVD Anne de Bretagne live au chateau des ducs"
- 15 October 2010: "Triple CD Live "Anne de Bretagne au chateau des ducs"
- Due 5 Jan 2011: "Excalibur III, The Origins"
- 2000 : Open The Door by Roger Hodgson
- 2004 : UMOJA musical about apartheid (song I have a Dream)
- 2005 : Crème anglaise by John Helliwell (saxophonist of Supertramp)
- 2004 : O Gengis, narrated by Jean Reno (French version) and Omar Sharif (English version).
- 2006: Mon frère, le Loup, unrealised scenario.
- 2009: La Robe du soir by Myriam Aziza; Alan Simon composed the song "L'enfant Roy"
- 2010: Christopher Ross by Max Sender; Alan Simon composed "Peace on earth"
- 2003: GAIA, Carnets secrets de la planète bleue
- 2008: Excalibur le cercle du dragon (vol. 1)
- 2010: Excalibur la prophétie de Merlin (vol. 2)
- Dan Nastali, "Arthurian Pop" in Elizabeth Sherr Sklar, et al, King Arthur in popular culture, McFarland, 2002, p151.
- Umoja, official site