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David Bintley CBE, Director
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Koen Kessels, Music Director

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Simon Jeffes



Simon Jeffes was born in Sussex in 1949. After spending part of his childhood in Canada he returned to England and studied the classical guitar. His early activities as a musician ranged from playing avant-garde music with a group of classical guitarists (the Omega Players) to working in experimental rock music, in which he gained a reputation for inventive and distinctive string arrangements.

In 1972 he formed the Penguin Café Orchestra which became the context for his work as a composer. The name came from an imaginary café about which he wrote extensively, describing its surreal atmosphere with paradoxical and metaphysical undercurrents. It was from this place that Jeffes found the inspiration captured on the seven records the orchestra has released. This music has attracted attention throughout the world and the Penguin Café Orchestra has visited many countries, performing throughout Europe, Japan and North America. It has also made many broadcasts on radio and television including a South Bank Show devoted to it (1987). Jeffes died in December 1997 as the result of a brain tumour. For his ballet, 'Still Life' at the Penguin Café, David Bintley selected eight pieces from the recordings and approached Jeffes, who happily reorchestrated them for a more conventional orchestra. Jeffes's titles have been used by Bintley except for 'Horns of the Bull', which has become 'Long Distance', and 'Pythagoras's Trousers', which is now 'The Ecstasy of Dancing Fleas' (not to be confused with Jeffes's original piece of the same name).
Kin.

Tzu-Chao Chou; photo: Bill Cooper

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