Organist, Pianist, Conductor, Choral Animateur, Lecturer, Researcher, Writer, Composer, Teacher, and Traveller…

 

Simon Dunbavand graduated in music from Cambridge University, where he was Organ Scholar of Peterhouse. He has also recently completed a research project at the Music Department of The University of Sheffield, where he held the Charles Bryers Scholarship. He is an Associate of the Royal College of Organists, and an Associate of the Royal College of Music. 

Simon studied piano with Martin Roscoe and organ with Roger Fisher, and has given recitals and played for services in cathedrals such as Chester, Truro, Chichester, Guildford, Southwell, and Lincoln, and at St. John's College, Cambridge, as well as performing in Denmark, Norway, and Hungary. As a performer, Visions of Eternity (Simon's recent CD of organ music composed on Gregorian chant and Lutheran chorale) explores the profound bond between liturgy and the beauty of music. As a researcher, he examines the spiritual dimension to music and the strong links between music and theology, particularly with respect to the work of French composer Olivier Messiaen. As a composer, Simon's works include a cantata based on the life and poetry of the Chilean Nobel Laureate Gabriela Mistral, and a choral suite of poems by Rabindranath Tagore. 

As a choral director and animateur, Simon has presented workshops devoted to Hispanic renaissance masterpieces in places such as Buckfast Abbey, and he frequently directs performances of Russian Orthodox music, which he researches and collects in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Kiev. His other interest lies in the early Baroque music of Latin America, and he particularly enjoys researching the music of glorious colonial churches on visits to countries such as Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia. Whilst in Venezuela he was able to visit the Capuchin missions to the Pemón tribe, and climbed to the 'lost world' of Mount Roraima.

Simon is also a frequent lecturer on classical music themed-cruises, as well as inspiring singers in the Choirs-at-Sea programme. Travel is his greatest pleasure, and when combined with music, produces a thrilling anthropological and ethnographical cocktail, from the ghats of Varanasi, to the monasteries of Luang Prabang in Laos. Simon is proud to have played the ceremonial gong at a Hindu watermelon ritual on Moheshkhali Island in Bangladesh, and trekked to the ancient Buddhist Monasteries of Inle Lake, Burma, across the mountains of the forbidden Shan State to the two-thousand stupas of Kakku with their bells tinkling in the breeze. Simon has visited the Mursi tribe of the Lower Omo Valley in Ethiopia and attended the chanting of the St George's Day rites in the rock-hewn orthodox churches of the holy city of Lalibella. Recently he took the infamous Tazara train from Dar es Salaam to Zambia, and continued onwards into Zimbabwe and South Africa. In 2015 he has particularly enjoyed visiting the Corcovado district of Costa Rica, Bocas del Toro in Panama, and travelling by train across Uzbekistan.

Captivated by the ethnomusicology and literature of Latin America (originally fascinated by an exploration of Santería in Havana), Simon's future plans include researching Candomblé in Salvador, syncretic religious music in Guatemala, and the colonial heritage of Nicaragua.