Stephen Simon, co-creator of the Stories in Music™ series, was a prominent symphony conductor in the United States and abroad. Renowned as a specialist in the music of George Frederic Handel, for 25 years he fostered numerous innovative and energetic performances as the music director of the Washington Chamber Symphony at the Kennedy Center. He was the founding Music Director of Maestro Classics™.
Maestro Simon spearheaded the Handel revival in the 1970s and 1980s, where he was music director of the Handel Society of New York. His performance editions of little known operas and oratorios introduced Handel to American audiences, as did his numerous recordings. His recordings of Handel’s oratorios and operas won wide acclaim, including a Grammy Award nomination for Best Choral Recording. He also established the Handel Festival at the Kennedy Center. The Handel Festival Orchestra received rave reviews in Europe and on tour in the Northeast. For many years he was a regular guest conductor at the Handel Festival in Halle, Germany, Handel’s birthplace.
In his role as Music Director and Conductor of the Washington Chamber Symphony, Simon brought a varied repertoire and joyful new interpretations of known and unknown works, treating audiences to Beethoven Symphonies with Beethoven-sized orchestras and new works that proved that not all contemporary works are painful. He also resurrected forgotten symphonies by composers such as Clementi and Voricek, the Czech Mozart. During these years he also conducted and co-created with Bonnie Ward Simon extremely successful multi-generational programming for young people, their parents, and grandparents. The Washington Chamber Symphony Concerts for Young People series enjoyed over a decade of sold-out concerts at the Kennedy Center, educating and delighting parents, grandparents, and children ages 6-12.
Simon recorded The Complete Mozart Piano Concerti with the legendary Lili Kraus as the soloist for CBS/SONY, numerous recordings of Handel operas and oratorios, and the award-winning Complete Beethoven Piano Concerti with pianist Anthony Newman performing on a fortepiano of the period with an orchestra of original instruments for Newport Classics. Stories in Music® is Simon’s first series of recordings for young people.
Stephen Simon loved music from boyhood, and remembered listening to the great church organists of Manhattan on Sunday mornings when he was a child. He attended Oberlin College, received his B.M. from the Yale School of Music, and studied conducting with the legendary Josef Krips in San Francisco. He subsequently became Music Director of The County Symphony in Westchester, NY, where he founded the A Summer of Music on the Hudson concert series on the Jay Gould estate known as Lyndhurst in Tarrytown, New York. Many in Washington, DC remember his National Gallery of Art Orchestra concert commemorating the great portrait artist Gilbert Stuart and the premiere of Simon’s arrangement of three movements from Richard Bales’ Music of the Revolution for full orchestra and glass harmonica. He was the music director of the Simon Sinfonietta in Falmouth, Massachusetts and L'Orchestre des Portes Rouge in New York City.