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 concerts as well as teaching and recording film and television soundtracks.
Victoria was appointed Principal Cellist with Opera North in 2005 and then in 2008 she won a position with the renowned Philharmonia Orchestra, whom she had first heard perform live as a very young student in New Zealand. She has since toured extensively with the Philharmonia throughout Europe, Asia, North and South America with some of the world’s leading conductors and soloists. She has also given workshops and coached students as part of the Philharmonia Orchestra’s Education department. Victoria has since performed as Guest Principal Cellist with many of the UK major orchestras. In 2014 she was invited to be cello tutor for the European Union Youth Orchestra and in the same year she performed as Principal Cellist in the BBC National Orchestra of Wales’ Proms season at the Royal Albert Hall, including BBC television and radio broadcasts. In 2015 she returned to the Proms as Guest Principal Cellist of the CBSO with conductor Andris Nelsons. Since 2015 Victoria has been a member of the cello faculty at the Royal Northern College of Music.
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. She was appointed cellist of the Rautio Piano Trio in 2015 and their first CD together is due for release in 2017 on Resonus Classics. 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. Awards include being selected for a Purcell Room Solo Debut (Park Lane Group) and Countess of Munster’s Recital Soloist, winning the Royal Over-Seas League Strings Competition, Johann-Andreas-Stein-Wettbewerb, Leonard Rose Prize, Barbirolli Cello Prize, the prestigious Silver Medal of the Worshipful Company of Musicians and an ESU Scholarship.
Victoria grew up in Auckland, New Zealand, and her early love of music was encouraged by her concert-pianist mother. In 2002, having won the NZ Young Musician of the Year and performed concertos with all the major symphony orchestras, Victoria started her postgraduate studies at the Royal Northern College of Music, England, supported generously by Creative NZ and the Patricia Pratt Scholarship. During her time at the RNCM, Victoria studied primarily with Ralph Kirshbaum and Karine Georgian. She achieved distinctions in both performance and composition and in 2006 graduated with the Audience Prize and the Gold Medal, the college’s highest accolade. She later attended the Guildhall School of Music as a Chamber Music Fellow and continued her studies with Julius Berger at the Leopold-Mozart-Zentrum der Universität Augsburg, Germany. Victoria gained further artistic inspiration through master classes 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.