Composer in Residence

Simon Dobson

Having grown up in a brass banding family, Simon moved to London at age 18 on a scholarship to study composition under Timothy Salter, Theo Verby and George Benjamin, at the Royal College of Music. While at college, he wrote music for many different ensembles including, wind orchestra, string orchestra, percussion ensemble and the RNCM symphony orchestra. He received his first commission, from the London Philharmonic Orchestra in 2002 during his second year of study. In 2004 he was a featured composer at the world famous Three Choirs Festival and composed Sinewave, a contemporary work based on electronic music.

In 2002 Simon also won the European Brass Band composers’ competition in Brussels, which led to his being commissioned to write the test work for the 2003 English regional Fourth section brass band competition, Lydian Pictures. A number of other commissions followed including a work for the national youth brass band finals of Great Britain, including a march for the BBC Music Live festival, and Brass Band Heritage Trust.

At RCM, Simon was part of a group of students who formed ‘Zone One Brass’, a championship section band which he conducted for four years before moving away from London in 2004 after earning his B.Mus and graduating to the sounds of his own fanfare.

dobsonIn 2007, Simon wrote the set piece for the European Brass band championships ‘B’ section, and his work The Drop (based on Drum ‘n’ Bass DJ techniques) has been performed a number of times in some major concert venues, including the Birmingham’s Symphony Hall.

He has been previously been Composer in Residence with both the Leyland and Brighouse and Rastrick bands.

Simon also works as a freelance conductor and is well known for his work with youth ensembles and players. His conducting led him to coach many of London’s championship standard bands, taking him nationwide, as well as to Norway for the Norwegian Brass band championships in the NM 2008-11 and Switzerland. He worked with former national youth champions Mount Charles Youth Band, as well as the Devon County Youth band and the Cornwall Youth Brass Band, for whom he wrote his composition Penlee.

Simon played horn in the Dirty Pop band, ‘Men Of Splendour’, performing all over England, playing festival crowds in excess of 10,000 people. As a conductor, he conducted ‘Zone One Brass’, his own band, including at Buckingham Palace.

Simon continues to compose many different types of music, such as Drum ‘n’ Bass, Dub, Jazz, Breakbeat and, more recently, animated film scores, as well as providing film music for Timelapse film company, Lobster Pictures Ltd. His music is published by Faber, London. Simon was the winner of the Denis and Maud Wright conducting award and now holds the post of Assistant Musical Director at the National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain, studying under Bramwell Tovey.

Simon has recently been undertaking judging and adjudication work having judged the 2010 Scottish open brass band championships in Perth; on this occasion he was judging performances of his own piece “… and when the river told ….” He also judged the Swiss Open Brass band championships in the Stravinsky hall in Montreux. In April 2011 he returned to Montreux with the Fairey Band to hear them perform the world première of his latest composition ‘A Symphony of Colours’ at the European Brass Band Championships.

In May 2011 Simon’s work Penlee (based on the Penlee lifeboat disaster) was voted in at number 106 in the Classic FM Hall of Fame. It was the highest new entry of any genre and Simon was the seventh highest living composer in the 300-strong list! This work has been used world wide as a test piece in brass band competitions; it was the set work for the Swiss national finals and the North American championships.

Simon has been playing trumpet for various funk/soul/jazz and hip hop bands, working for producers across the southwest and recording studio sessions for bands such as The King Blues. He appears on three of the album tracks on their new album Punk & Poetry and produced the track 5 Bottles of Shampoo with singer Johnny ‘Itch’ Fox. The album charted at number 31 in the UK charts.