Thomas Simaku (b.1958)
The Albanian-born British composer Thomas Simaku began his composition studies with Tonin Harapi at the Tirana Conservatoire. After graduating in 1982, he gained first-hand experience working with folk musicians for a period of three years in the remote town of Permet in Southern Albania near the border with Greece.
In 1991 he moved to England and gained a PhD in Composition at the University of York (1991-96) where he studied with David Blake. He also was the 1996 Leonard Bernstein Fellow in Composition at Tanglewood Music Centre in the USA with Bernard Rands, and a fellow at the Composers’ Workshop – California State University (1998) with Brian Ferneyhough.
You can read a more extensive biography here.
Click on the links, below, to buy Thomas Simaku’s compositions from his publisher, Emerson Editions.
Here are the sleeve notes on these pieces, written by Louisa Creed:
Guirlande de Flutes, by Thomas Simaku, has formed an important part of the repertoire of our flute quartet, which we have even named after this piece. His successes as a composer are too numerous to list here, but in the last 20 years he has been winning international competitions all over the world besides getting his work played in many countries.
My husband, Lewis, and I met him when he first came to live in York, before he was well-known. We decided to commission a work for 3 flutes in C and alto flute to celebrate our silver wedding in 1997, and this beautiful suite of Albanian folk song arrangements is the result. Because we asked that the composition should be both tuneful and flexible in length in order to fit in with our concert programmes, Thomas obligingly adapted his style to suit our purposes (his compositions today being somewhat “over our heads”!), and the tunes themselves and the highly original way in which he has arranged them, have proved extremely popular with our audiences.
The first song in particular From across the Sea, which originated 500 years ago, when the Albanian community were forced to emigrate to Calabria and on a clear day could see their longed-for home country across the sea, never fails to move people with its nostalgic beauty. It is written as a trio, while the middle three movements are for quartet and the last one, preceded by a haunting little cadenza for solo flute, is for 6 flutes.