London-based cellist Victoria Simonsen has been described by The Strad as 'a musician of rare quality' and 'beautifully sensitive and composed' by The Times.
Victoria enjoys a varied musical life that incorporates solo, chamber music and orchestral work as well as recording film and television soundtracks. She also enjoys teaching and is a member of the cello faculty at the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM). In 2015 she was appointed cellist of the Rautio Piano Trio and their first CD together was released in 2018 on Resonus Classics.
A passionate chamber musician, Victoria has performed at festivals such as the IMS Prussia Cove, Manchester International, Kronberg Germany, Banff Canada, Chamber Music New Zealand and for six years she enjoyed notable success in the early Barbirolli String Quartet. Her chamber music performances have been broadcast on radio in UK, Germany and New Zealand and concerts have included Wigmore Hall and the Purcell Room London. A highlight of 2016 was performing at the BBC Proms Chamber Music series in London as part of a twelve-cellist ensemble.
Victoria’s solo performances have included Queen Elizabeth Hall, BBC Proms Composer Portrait, Leeds International Recital Series and Victoria Concert Hall Singapore. Whilst a student, her awards included winning the Royal Over-Seas League Strings Competition, NZ Young Musician of the Year, Johann-Andreas-Stein-Wettbewerb, Leonard Rose Prize, Barbirolli Cello Prize, the prestigious Silver Medal of the Worshipful Company of Musicians, an ESU Scholarship, as well as being selected as a Countess of Munster Recital Soloist and for a Purcell Room Solo Debut (Park Lane Group).
Victoria is former Principal Cellist with Opera North and has more recently given televised performances at the BBC Proms as Guest Principal of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales. She has also guest led English National Opera, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Northern Sinfonia and Irish Chamber Orchestra. From 2008 until 2017 she was a member of the Philharmonia Orchestra and toured throughout Europe, Asia, North and South America with some of the world's finest conductors and soloists. She gave frequent workshops and coaching as part of the Philharmonia's education department. In 2014 she was cello tutor for the European Union Youth Orchestra.
Victoria grew up in Auckland, New Zealand, and her early love of music was encouraged by her concert-pianist mother. In 2002, after completing her studies with James Tennant at the University of Auckland and having won the NZ Young Musician of the Year and performed concertos with all the major symphony orchestras, Victoria commenced her postgraduate studies at the Royal Northern College of Music, England, supported generously by Creative NZ and the Patricia Pratt Scholarship. Victoria studied cello with Ralph Kirshbaum and Karine Georgian and composition with Anthony Gilbert, culminating with winning the Gold Medal and the Audience Prize. She later continued her studies as a string quartet fellow at the Guildhall School of Music and with Julius Berger at the Leopold-Mozart-Zentrum der Universität Augsburg in Germany. Victoria gained further inspiration through masterclasses with renowned cellists such as Mstislav Rostropovich, Anner Bylsma, Bernard Greenhouse, Gary Hoffman, Luis Claret, Philippe Muller, Johannes Goritzki, Colin Carr, Raphael Wallfisch and Jens Peter Maintz.
Victoria is exceptionally grateful to Miss Barbara Hilda Knapton, Mrs Kathleen Mary Cavill and the Countess of Munster Musical Trust for enabling her to acquire a cello by Giovanni Grancino, Milan 1687.
Biography updated February 2018. Please do not reprint, either in full or edited, without first seeking permission.
IN THE PRESS
'Victoria Simonsen's brilliant account ....utterly compelling' The Observer
'a musician of rare quality' The Strad
'Victoria Simonsen stands apart as one of the most talented cellists to have emerged over the past decade' The Yorkshire Post
'beautifully sensitive and composed cello playing' The Times
'everything was brilliantly played' The Strad
'Simonsen tackled the Elgar Concerto with the vehemence and poetry of a young Jacqueline du Pre' New Zealand Herald
'scintillating playing' Plymouth Herald
'a gloriously rich tone with the neatest articulation and linear shaping, produced a reading of the highest order' Plymouth Herald
'Our attention was thus immediately drawn to the striking talent of [...] cellist Victoria Simonsen. Her warmth of tone and seemingly effortless handling of some complex writing were highly impressive.' Hereford Times
'The entire work’s haunting pathos seemed encapsulated by ‘cellist Victoria Simonsen’s short, heartrending solo and the rapt final bars which followed.' Wales Arts Review