David Simons

David Simons


Gamelan Son of Lion is a new music repertory ensemble and composers' collective based in downtown New York City. The ensemble uses Javanese-style iron gamelan keyboards and specializes in contemporary pieces written for the instruments of the Javanese and Balinese gamelan percussion orchestra


David Simons composes music for theater, dance, film, installations, CDs and concert ensembles. His unusual collection of sounds from self-built and non-European instruments combines with digital sampling technologies to create a unique pan-cultural music. He has devised his own method of using the Theremin as a Midi controller. David is a graduate of the California Institute of the Arts, studying composition with Earle Brown, Morton Subotnick, James Tenney, Harold Budd; percussion teachers include John Bergamo (Cal Arts), Paul Price (Manhattan School Of Music), and Alan Dawson (Berklee). David has researched and performed music from many of the worldÕs cultures, and furthered his music studies in Bali, Bangkok and Seoul. As a founding member of the FUTURE PRIMITIVE ENSEMBLE (mid 70Õs San Francisco) his pieces were heard live on radio and in concert throughout the U.S. He has also performed on tour in Asia, Eastern and Western Europe, Canada, Cuba and Hawaii. Since 1981 he has been a member of Gamelan Son of Lion and Music for Homemade Instruments in New York, both of which regularly premiere his works.
Awards and grants include a 2003 Rockefeller Foundation residency at Bellagio, Italy to compose music for NEWBAND and their collection of Harry Partch instruments; 1998 American Composers Forum and Jerome Foundation funded commission to write Music for Theremin and Gamelan, with grants from Arts International and Asian Cultural Council to perform it in Bali (Sacred Rhythm Festival 2000); other awards include 2005 MidAtlantic Arts Foundation grant with instrument builder Ken Butler and Lisa Karrer at Avampato Museum, Charleston WV; Harvestworks Artist-In-Residence (Õ89, Ô95); Canada Council Visiting Foreign Artist (Ô92) for sound installation at Art Metropole in Toronto; Composer-in-Residence at American Dance Festival (Ô91); NY Foundation for the Arts Composition Fellowship (Ô90, 2000); ASCAP Special Awards (1987-05); and several Meet the Composer commissions. In collaboration with Lisa Karrer, David has received Artslink and Arts International awards for projects in Estonia (95-03), and the Mary Flagler Cary Commissioning Grant to compose their chamber opera ÒTHE BIRTH OF GEORGEÓ (Ô96). This opera was produced by Harvestworks and American Opera Projects and had its workshop premiere at La Mama in Ô97, supported by the Jerome Foundation and Greenwall Foundation. An Aaron Copland Recording grant was received to make a CD, released on TELLUS in 2003. DavidÕs new CD on TZADIK "PRISMATIC HEARING" was released in June 2004.
Other recordings with Simons as composer or prime collaborator include BENDING THE GENDING, Gamelan Son of Lion Õ02; PICK OF THE LITTER, Music For Homemade InstrumentsÔ00; NEW GAMELAN/NEW YORK, Son Of LionÕ 95; GOD IS MY CO-PILOT Knitting Factory Works Ô93 ; CHUNK/LIVE AT THE KNITTING FACTORY VOL.2, A&M Records Ô89; A DECADE OF DEBRIS, Music For Homemade Instruments Ô89; SHELLEY HIRSCH/SINGING, Apollo Records Holland Õ88. David also appears on the 2006 recordings AURAL SHOEHORNING by Barbara Benary (New World Records) and INTENSIONS by Laura Andel; FLIGHT OF WHISPERS, Jason Kao Hwang CRI Ô99; FIELDS AMAZE, Patrick Grant Ô97; SHORTWAVE/ KURZWELLEN by Stockhausen with the Negative Band, Finnadar Ô76, and more. DavidÕs writings on music and sound are published in EAR Magazine and Radiotexte (Semiotexte Ô94).
In theater David has composed music for plays by Pinter, Hawthorne, Dostoyevsky, Poe, Jarry, New Peking Opera, Arabian Nights, The Epic of Gilgamesh, and childrenÕs theater. His scores for choreographers have been performed at the Merce Cunningham Dance Studio, DTW, The Kitchen, Riverside Dance Festival, St. MarkÕs Church, PS 122, Franklin Furnace, DIA Art Foundation, Yellow Springs Institute, Fashion Moda, Port Authority Bus Terminal, and in Bejing, Tallin, Zagreb.

2005 - UNCLE VENUS for gamelan and string quartet, premiered by FLUX Quartet and Son of Lion
2004 - ODENTITY for NewBand and the Harry Partch instruments (premiere at Montclair NJ, 2007)
2003 - PICASSO/ROSSINIRAPE for sampler, MASS dance/theater by Ivana Sajko BAD Co, Zagreb Croatia
2002 - THE UNRAVELING for Gamelan Son of Lion, NY Indonesian Consulate and Weslyan University, Tzadik CD
2000 - MUSIC FOR THEREMIN AND GAMELAN commissioned by American Composers Forum
SACRED RHYTHM Millennial Percussion Festival,Ubud Bali (and 12/99 at Knitting Factory& 2005 at the Kitchen, NYC)
1999 - VIRTUAL PERCUSSION TRIO for viola, voice, and Theremin, Galapagos, Brooklyn (and Ubud, Bali; and Brussels Theremin Convention, 2000) featuring Stephanie Griffin and Lisa Karrer
1998 - ETHERS, for Midi-Theremin, slide guitar and voice, Kunsthalle Krems, Austria
- COOL IT WAYANG, for gamelan, trombone and voice
1997 - THE BIRTH OF GEORGE, a Chamber Opera, with Lisa Karrer, commissioned by Harvestworks, at LaMama NYC
1996 - TUGU ANEH (STRANGE MONUMENT), for Gamelan and Homemade In


2006 - "Aural Shoehorning" by Barbara Benary, performed by Gamelan Son of Lion on New World Records
2004 - "Prismatic Hearing" works for Theremin, sampler, Gamelan Son of Lion, and mixed ensembles, TZADIK
2003 - ÒThe Birth of GeorgeÓ a chamber opera for 18 players, written by David Simons and Lisa Karrer, conducted by Yvonne Hicks. Harvestworks/TELLUS
2002 - ÒCool it WayangÓ for gamelan, voice and trombone Gamelan Son Of Lion BENDING THE GENDING
2000 - ÒCremation MusicÓ and ÒThis Hoary PerchÓ Music For Homemade Instruments PICK OF THE LITTER
1995 - ÒKebyar LeyakÓ for digital gamelan, trombone, ocarina and text - Gamelan Son Of Lion
1994 - ÒPygmy DreamÓ and ÒHoney Ant SongÓ for rock band God is My Co-Pilot HOW TO BE, The Making of Americans
1989 - ÒNative Cat SongsÓ for percussion, strings, winds and voice. Music For Homemade Instruments
1980 - ÒFloating WorldsÓ for Zheng (Chinese zither), flute and harp. Self produced cassette

Set List

Mostly new compositions by band members, also arrangements of traditional pieces for gamelan, or covers of popular or esoteric songs.
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As a solo or duet, compositions by David Simons and Lisa Karrer.