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Fiona Simon


The Shirley Bacot Shamel Chair


Violinist Fiona Simon, a member of the Orchestra since 1985, made her Philharmonic solo debut in November 1989, performing Vivaldi’s Concerto for Three Violins. Simon began her career in her native England, where she studied with Szymon Goldberg and won major prizes in the Carl Flesch and Jacques Thibaud competitions. For three consecutive years, she was London’s Young Artist of the Year. She has performed with the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, the Royal Opera at Covent Garden, and the English Chamber Orchestra, among others. She has also been featured in many recitals and concerts broadcast over the BBC, and has made numerous appearances throughout Europe. Simon is a member of the Vanderspar String Trio and the Simon String Quartet. She was married to the late New York Philharmonic violinist Richard Simon, and has a son, Michael Paul, a poet.

“My family was friendly with that of the late cellist Jacqueline du Pré. Sometimes she would stay with us on weekends, and my elder brother and I would observe her practicing. My brother then decided he wanted to play the cello, and so did I.”

Interview with Fiona Simon

THE FACTS: Born in London, England. Studied in England at the Purcell School and at the Guildhall School of Music, with Szymon Goldberg. Prior to the Philharmonic: performed with the English Chamber Orchestra and the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields. At the Philharmonic: Joined in 1985. Solo debut with the Orchestra: Vivaldi's Concerto for Three Violins in November 1989, with Zubin Mehta conducting.

EARLIEST MUSICAL MEMORY: Playing piano trios with my mother and elder brother — I was probably five. I began playing the violin at four. My family was very friendly with the family of the late cellist Jacqueline du Pré. Jackie was ten years older than me. Sometimes she would stay with us on weekends, and my elder brother and I would observe her practicing. My brother then decided he wanted to play the cello, and so did I. My parents gave me a violin and told me it was a small cello.

WHEN DID YOU KNOW THAT YOU WANTED TO BE A PROFESSIONAL MUSICIAN? At age four. I had played the piano for at least a year before that. But once I started violin lessons, that was it.

MOST MEMORABLE MOMENTS WITH THE ORCHESTRA: My first tour with the New York Philharmonic, in 1984, before I joined the Orchestra; my two-year-old son traveled with me as did my late husband, Richard Simon — who was a violinist with the Orchestra — on the five-week tour. It was quite a beginning!

MOST INSPIRING COMPOSER: My favorite letter of the alphabet is B — Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms. You can't get much better than that!

DO YOU EVER GET NERVOUS? I get excited, but I can't say I get nervous. It's still a thrill to play a concert.


WHAT'S IN YOUR CD PLAYER RIGHT NOW? Debussy string quartets

DO YOU EVER PERFORM IN OTHER GROUPS? I play a lot of chamber music, and also occasionally play in chamber orchestras.

WHAT'S INSIDE YOUR INSTRUMENT CASE? A little screwdriver set for tightening screws in my case, and an assortment of pencils, rubber bands, and mutes. Also, since I'm chairman of the Orchestra Committee, usually a whole stack of papers!

As of March 2014

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