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Olive Simpson (Soprano)

Born: Donegal, Donegal, Ireland

The Irish soprano, Olive Simpson, grew up in Donegal in a musical family. She, her sister and brother strummed our their guitars and belted out the latest hits, while her mother Nancy, a wonderful teacher and accompanist, took care of the classical side of her singing. A degree in Modern Languages from Trinity College Dublin included much extracurricular musical activity, and she soon abandoned teaching and decamped to London. Success in becoming a Licentiate of the Royal Academy of Music did not alas bring with it any clues on how to make a living, so she activated the typing skills acquired during her teaching years and contented herself with various office jobs while enjoying her singing as an amateur.

All that changed when Olive Simpson joined the professional choir at Brompton Oratory, and made a few contacts in the singing world. She auditioned for Ward Swingle's new English group, Swingle II, and embarked on a new career in the world of performing professionally on TV and Radio, in the concert hall and in the recording studio. Their repertoire ranged from Big Band to avant-garde, and they premiered operas by Luciano Berio at the Maggio Musicale in Florence and La Scala Milan. She sang the roles of Fire and Princess when the Swingles combined with the Netherlands Dance Theatre in Ravel’s L’Enfant et les Sortileges, and she is soprano soloist on the Pierre Boulez' recording of L. Berio's Sinfonia. On the lighter side, their TV appearances included guesting with The Two Ronnies, Cleo Laine, Shirley Bassey, Nana Mouskouri, and even Basil Brush; an Aquarius special on L. Berio's A Ronne, and a two-part showcase featuring the group on Rhythm on Two for BBC2.

After many rewarding years of touring the world with Swingles, and having the nickname ‘Molly’ bestowed upon her by Ward Swingle, Olive Simpson rediscovered the world of classical performance and began to sing and record regularly with The Deller Consort, The King's Consort (Director: Robert King), and the still wonderful Choir of the London Oratory. She can also be found on recordings by The Sixteen (Director: Harry Christophers), The Tallis Scholars (Director: Peter Phillips), Monteverdi Choir (Director: John Eliot Gardiner), Gabrieli Consort (Director: Paul McCreesh), New London Consort (Director: Philip Pickett), Cambridge Singers (Director: John Rutter), and many more). As a soloist she particularly enjoys George Frideric Handel, W.A. Mozart and J.S. Bach.

Recording studios and close-microphone singing continued to feature prominently, and her voice can be heard on many TV and Film scores by such composers as Nigel Hess, Colin Towns and Hans Zimmer.She is lead vocalist with the award winning MOR vocal group Chameleon, whose album ‘Saylon Dola’ was reissued in June 2005. Other solo recordings include fifteen albums with Swingles; Tu Es Petrus recorded at The Vatican with The Schola Gregoriana of Cambridge; Steve Reich’s Music for Eighteen Musicians with Ensemble Modern, and his video opera Three Tales with the Steve Reich Ensemble; "Food of Love" - Music from Shakespeare, with Nigel Hess and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra; and a solo CD "Anyone for Music?" with Dorothy Linell, Lute and Guitar, which includes favourites from five centuries of song. She currently lives in London, England.

More Photos

Source: Olive Simpson Website; Photo 08: Luciano Berio
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (February 2017)

Recordings of Bach Cantatas & Other Vocal Works




John Rutter


Member of Cambridge Singers:
V-1 (1993):
BWV 225

Links to other Sites

Olive Simpson (Official Website)
Olive Simpson on Facebook


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Last update: Tuesday, May 30, 2017 01:29