Simaku studied composition between the years 1978-1982 at the Academy of Music and Arts of Albania under Tonin Harapi. After graduation he was nominated as Director of Music at the Palace of Culture of Permet, in southern Albania.
Prizes and Awards
Notable prizes and awards that Simaku has won include:
- 1993: The much coveted Lionel Robbins Memorial Scholarship, being the only candidate from the UK to win that year.
- 1996: Leonard Bernstein Fellowship in Composition at Tanglewood Music Centre in the U.S. with Bernard Rands.
- 1998: Fellowship at the Composers’ Workshop at California State University with Brian Ferneyhough.
- 2000: A highly prestigious Fellowship from the Arts & Humanities Research Council in London.
- 2004: Serocki International Prize, Warsaw.
- 2009: British Composer Award (Instrumental) for Soliloquy V: Flauto Acerbo.
- 2013: First Prize in the International Composition Competition for Lutoslawski's 100th Birthday for Concerto for Orchestra.
Simaku's music has been performed throughout the UK and Europe, as well as in North America, Australia and the Far East. In 1995 his work Epitaph for String Orchestra was selected by the International Jury for the ISCM World Music Days in Germany - the first ever Albanian music to be included in this prestigious festival. Subsequently, Simaku's works have been selected by the International Jury at the World Music Days of 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2012.
Other international festivals where his music has been performed include Music Biennale Zagreb, Tanglewood, Avignon, Miami, Cagliari, KlangSpectrum (Austria), Viitasaari (Finland), Innsbruck (Austria), Odense (Denmark), Manchester, York, Birmingham, Automne de Tirana amongst others. In October 2013, Simaku was invited to give a lecture at the 5th Pharos International Contemporary Music Festival in Nicosia, Cyprus, on the genesis and processes involved in his Soliloquy Cycle.
Broadcasts of his music include those by Radio-France, BBC-Radio 3, Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), Austrian, Polish, Croatian, Danish, Portuguese, Hellenic, Swedish, Romanian, Swiss and Icelandic radio stations.
Performances of his works include, among others, those given by the Arditti Quartet, Kreutzer Quartet, Quatuor Diotima, English Northern Philharmonia, MusikFabrik, Slovenian Radio-Television Orchestra, European Union Chamber Orchestra, Amsterdam New Music Ensemble, the New London Orchestra, Goldberg Ensemble, the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra, Tokyo Phonosphere Musicale, London's Kreutzer Quartet, Polish Radio Chamber Orchestra, Rubinstein Quartet, Copenhagen Sinfonietta, Luxembourg Sinfonietta, Romanian Radio Chamber Orchestra, Capricorn Ensemble, Norwegian Medieval Trio, Tyrolean Ensemble of New Music (TICOM), The Duke String Quartet, and Tirana Asmus Ensemble.
His solo works have been performed by the internationally acclaimed soloists such as Peter Sheppard Skærved, Rohan de Saram, Noriko Kawai, Garth Knox, Neil Heyde, Sarah Watts, Joseph Houston, Ian Pace, Vania Lecuit and Laura Willcox.
Simaku's music is published in England by University of York Music Press and Emerson Edition.
Orchestra and Large Ensembles
- Plenilunio for 12 solo strings, 1998
- The Eagle on the Cross for orchestra, 1998
- Luxonorité for ensemble, 2001
- Plenilunio II for string orchestra, 2004
- Hyllus for Orchestra, 2004
- Arc-en-ciel concerto for cello & orchestra, 2006
- Insomnio for fifteen players, 2007
- The Shadow of a Brass Line for Orchestra, 2011
- Concerto for Orchestra, 2012 (Winning work of the International Competition for Lutoslawski’s 100th Birthday)
Chamber and Solo Works
- Soliloquy I for solo violin, 2000
- Soliloquy II for solo cello, 2001
- Soliloquy III for solo viola, 2002
- Due Sotto-Voci per Violino Solo, 2003
- String Quartet No, 2 ‘Radius’, 2003
- String Quartet No.3 ‘Voci Celesti’, 2004
- des pas chromatiques – Hommage à Debussy for piano, 2005
- Soliloquy IV for bass clarinet, 2008
- a2 for violin & cello, 2008
- Clarimbasso for bass clarinet & percussion, 2008
- Soliloquy V - Flauto acerbo for Alto & Tenor Recorders, 2008
- Stepping Up for piano, 2009
- The Flight of the Eagle for piano, 2010
- Reflexions de la Croix I for six players, 2010
- Need for Speech for soprano and piano, 2010
- Three Albanian Folk Songs for female choir, 2010
- String Quartet No 4, 2011
- Hommage à Kurtág for piano, 2011
- Akhmatova Song for soprano & cello, 2011
- Trois Esquisses for piano, 2012
- Solar (a) for trumpet, violin, piano, 2013
- Solar (a) for clarinet, violin, piano, 2013
- Deux Esquisses for piano, 2013
In 2000 Simaku was granted British Citizenship and now lives in York with his wife and two daughters. Simaku is a Reader in Composition at the University of York.
- Simaku, Thoma; Bobaton. "Thoma Simaku biography". Retrieved 6 August 2010.[dead link]
- "Thomas Simaku". University of York Music Press. Retrieved 27 February 2012.
- "British Composer Award Winners". British Composer Awards. Retrieved 27 February 2012.
- "Composition Competition Winners Announced!". The Witold Lutoslawski Society. Retrieved 7 October 2013.
- "Thomas Simaku wins Lutoslawski Competition". Polskie Radio. Retrieved 7 October 2013.
- "Soliloquy Cycle – Sweet and/or Sour?". 5th International Pharos Contemporary Music Festival. Retrieved 7 October 2013.
- "Simaku: String Quartets Nos. 2 and 3 / Soliloquy I-III". Naxos. Retrieved 27 February 2012.