Francesca Simmons

I’m a musician currently living and working in Wales and London.  You can view my website at http://www.francescasimmons.com

My first instrument is the violin but I also play piano, double bass, viola, musical saw, soprano sax, ukulele, and sing backing vocals.

Having trained classically yet performed in a wide variety of styles and circumstances, this blog is an exploration of what I really get up to when not wearing a formal black dress and sitting in front of a music stand.  The story goes a little something like this…

After being brought up on a diet of catholic hymns, Welsh traditionals and Bob Dylan (sung in tune by my mother) and old Blues (hummed tunelessly by my father), I began learning the violin.  Soon after, the world of large orchestral canvases and instrumental palettes appeared, and when I was old enough to fly the nest I followed these sounds and sights to Manchester and London, by now breaking free from Western classical music. I researched Afro-American work-songs, played violin music alongside tapes of bells ringing, arranged a solo concert for orchestra and tabla, joined a European folk group, ran around restaurants playing and doing the can-can, entertained minimalist-style while nude bodies rolled around in blue paint over huge paper screens, performed alongside old Iranian musicians setting poems by Rumi, listened to the most pure flute deep in a Lebanese grotto, travelled with bands to Europe to drink beer and use distortion pedals, created a 1930’s flash mob Tin Pan Alley with the public, sped around an art gallery whilst making the sounds of a police siren on my violin…

When I decided to step off this merry-go-round, I ran straight to the circus.  As a member of the band I played my violin every night – and sang, played musical saw, soprano sax and double bass – under the twinkles of the Big Top.  I listened to the whistles of the Hungarian horsemen as they worked, was serenaded with French chansons on the steps of my wooden wagon, sang songs as we pulled down the canvases, drank with an old guitar by the fire, and practised Bach secretly during the dusk of an empty tent.

Now I have returned to Wales to live in the mountains and am writing my own material and creating my own projects.

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