Simmons, Calvin (Eugene)

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Simmons, Calvin (Eugene)

Simmons, Calvin (Eugene), gifted black American conductor; b. San Francisco, April 27, 1950; d. (drowned) Connery Pond, east of Lake Placid, N.Y, Aug. 21, 1982. He was the son of a longshoreman and a gospel singer. He joined the San Francisco Boys’ Choir at age 11, where he received conducting lessons from its conductor, Madi Bacon; then went to the Cincinnati Coll.-Cons. of Music, where he studied conducting with Max Rudolf (1968–70); when Rudolf was appointed to the faculty of the Curtis Inst. of Music in Philadelphia, Simmons joined him there (1970–72); he also took piano lessons with Serkin. He served as a rehearsal pianist and asst. conductor under Adler at the San Francisco Opera (1968–75), where he made his formal debut conducting Hänsel und Gretel in 1972. In 1975 he made his British debut at the Glyndebourne Festival. He was asst. conductor of the Los Angeles Phil, and music director of the Young Musicians Foundation orch. (1975–78). In 1979 he was appointed music director of the Oakland (Calif.) Sym. Orch. Before his tragic death in a canoeing accident, he appeared as a guest conductor with increasing success throughout North America. He made his Metropolitan Opera debut in N.Y. in 1978 and his N.Y.C. Opera debut in 1980.


R. Wolfe, The C. S. Story, or, “Don’t call me Maestro!” (Berkeley, 1994).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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Simmons, Calvin (Eugene)

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