Carlos Simon | Biography


Carlos Simon
Described by the Los Angeles Times as a composer who “refashions musical history as excitable new realms with an unmistakable musical purpose essential for our times,” Carlos Simon is a multi-faceted and highly sought-after composer. His music ranges from concert music for large and small ensembles to film scores with influences of jazz, gospel, and neo-romanticism.
With his music being described as ‘perfectly engaging and propulsive’ (The Philadelphia Enquirer), Simon’s recent commissions have come from the likes of New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Los Angeles Opera, Philadelphia Orchestra, Washington National Opera, Reno Philharmonic, the American Composers Orchestra, Arizona State University Symphony Orchestra, Irving Klein String Competition and Morehouse College celebrating its 150th founding anniversary.
Upcoming performances of his works include the likes of San Francisco Symphony Orchestra and Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and as well as at the Ojai Festival in summer 2021, where he is a Festival Resident Composer. Previously, his work has been performed by Tony Arnold, the Third Angle New Music Ensemble, Hub New Music Ensemble, the Asian/American New Music Institute, the Flint Symphony, and Georgia State University Wind Ensemble. Carlos’ string quartet, Elegy, honoring the lives of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and Eric Garner was recently performed at the Kennedy Center for the Mason Bates JFK Jukebox Series.
Simon was named as one of the recipients for the 2021 Sphinx Medal of Excellence. The Sphinx Medal of Excellence is the highest honor bestowed by the Sphinx Organization, recognizing extraordinary classical Black and Latinx musicians. Other notable awards and honors include him being named as a Sundance/Time Warner Composer Fellow in 2018, which was held at the historic Skywalker Ranch as part of the Sundance Institute, Composer Fellow at the Cabrillo Festival for Contemporary Music, winning the Underwood Emerging Composer Commission from the American Composers Orchestra in 2016. He has also served as a contributing arranger for Rachel Barton Pine Foundation’s Music by Black Composers series for violin.
Simon’s latest album, MY ANCESTOR’S GIFT, was released on the Navona Records label in April 2018. Described as an “overall driving force” (Review Graveyard) and featured on Apple Music’s “Albums to Watch”, MY ANCESTOR’S GIFT incorporates spoken word and historic recordings to craft a multifaceted program of musical works that are inspired as much by the past as they are the present. 
As well as Simon’s classical composition work, he is also a credited and experienced composer for film and the moving image, winning the prestigious Marvin Hamlisch Film Scoring Award in 2015 and having studied in Baden, Austria at the Hollywood Music Workshop with Conrad Pope and at New York University’s Film Scoring Summer Workshop. His work Let America Be America Again (text by Langston Hughes) is scheduled to be featured in an upcoming PBS documentary chronicling the inaugural Gabriela Lena Frank Academy of Music.
Acting as music director and keyboardist for GRAMMY Award winner Jennifer Holliday, Simon has performed with the Boston Pops Symphony, Jackson Symphony, and St. Louis Symphony. He has toured internationally with soul GRAMMY-nominated artist, Angie Stone, and performed throughout Europe, Africa, and Asia. 
Simon earned his doctorate degree at the University of Michigan, where he studied with Michael Daugherty and Evan Chambers. He has also received degrees from Georgia State University and Morehouse College. He is also an honorary member of Phi Mu Alpha Music Sinfonia Fraternity and a member of the National Association of Negro Musicians, Society of Composers International, and Pi Kappa Lambda Music Honor Society.  He has served as a member of the music faculty at Spelman College and Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia and now serves as Assistant Professor at Georgetown University. 
Carlos Simon’s compositions have been published by the Gregorian Institute of America (GIA) Publications and Hal Leonard Publications.