Simon Cummings is a composer, writer and researcher based in the Cotswolds, in south west England. He composes instrumental and electronic music, both of which focus upon gradual processes of transformation. His acoustic music involves highly intricate algorithmic processes rooted in carefully-defined behaviours, the music emerging from stochastic relationships in which these behaviours are juxtaposed and intermingle. His electronic music draws liberally on noise and pitched material, also incorporating elements of an ambient persuasion. Several CDs of his electronic music have been released, including Dither • Pother • Roil, Simulated Music and most recently a series of digital EPs featuring his ongoing series of Studies, exploring audible processes and the time/pitch organisation of music from a primarily visual perspective. Cummings’ work has received notable performances; Bromsgrove’s ‘Mixing Music’ Festival has twice featured his music, with acclaimed first performances of lent for solo clarinet and Orbus. (Fragment), the latter premièred by the Smith Quartet and broadcast on BBC Radio 3. His solo cello work, gravest one, won the SPNM/Huddersfield Festival composing competition in 2002, and was performed there by Arne Deforce. In recent years Cummings has composed works for a variety of soloists and ensembles, including Christopher Redgate, the Curious Chamber Players, BCMG, Thallein Ensemble, Icarus vocal ensemble and Thumb, and several of his works were featured in the 2014-15 Diva Contemporary concert series.
Cummings’ composition studies began at Coventry Centre for the Performing Arts, with Christopher Best. After this, he studied composition, conducting and organ at the Birmingham Conservatoire, and directed their contemporary music group, Thallein Ensemble. Upon graduation he was awarded the Creative Studies prize. Aided by a substantial grant from The Countess of Munster Musical Trust, Cummings undertook the Sonology and Masters degree programmes at the Institute for Sonology at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague, at the same time studying privately with Richard Barrett in Amsterdam. He has recently completed a Ph.D. in composition at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire under the supervision of Richard Causton and Howard Skempton, with additional guidance from Michael Finnissy. The primary focus of his research is the development of extended algorithmic and stochastic techniques, articulated within a new software environment called CloudCube. This research is summarised in the title of his Ph.D.: Cloud Triptych: an exploration of stochastic movement between discrete musical behaviours. He is currently working on new works for solo cello, trombone and electronics.
Cummings is an accomplished writer about new music; he is the author of contemporary/avant-garde music blog 5:4 (begun in 2008), and is a contributor to assorted print and web journals, including Dissonance, Opera, Bachtrack, Pan (journal of the British Flute Society), Mexican arts magazine La Tempestad and Fluid Radio. Most recently, he has written an introduction to Marko Ciciliani's book/audio DVD Pop Wall Alphabet and a major retrospective essay for the ebook Imperfect Forms: the Music of Kenneth Kirschner, published by Tokafi. As founder and artistic director of the ensemble Interrobang, Cummings has conducted numerous new works; these include the UK premières of Paul Dolden's The Heart Tears Itself Apart with the Power of its own Muscle, Ryoji Ikeda's op. 1 and Chiyoko Szlavnics' (a)long lines; we'll draw our own lines, alongside works by, among others, Kenneth Hesketh, Galina Ustvolskaya, Sorabji and Stockhausen, as well as student compositions.