Composer Carlos Simon

“The composer Carlos Simon is busy. Six premieres in four months busy,” writes David Allen in Wednesday’s (5/17) New York Times. “In February, Simon was at the Boston Symphony Orchestra for the first appearances of his ‘Four Black American Dances,’ a romp through a ring shout, a waltz, a tap dance and a praise break. At the Kennedy Center in Washington, where Simon has been a composer in residence since 2021, he oversaw two debuts in April: ‘Songs of Separation,’ a sun-still-shines setting of Rumi poetry, and ‘Don’t Let the Pigeon Sing Up Late!,’ an irreverent operatic collaboration with the picture book author Mo Willems. This month, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra gave the first performances of ‘Troubled Water,’ a concerto for trombone that movingly invokes the fears and the faiths of freedom seekers on the Underground Railroad. Then Imani Winds inaugurated ‘Giants,’ five sketches of pioneers of color. All that before Thursday, when the Minnesota Orchestra will premiere arguably the most important commission of Simon’s career so far: ‘brea(d)th,’ commemorating the murder of George Floyd…. Simon, 37, was already on the rise before the pandemic. But he has shot to far greater prominence in the past three years as classical music has come, embarrassingly late, to see that Black lives, Black artists, and Black music matter.”