Conductor Geoffrey Simon has combined entrepreneurial prowess with his considerable musical talent to build an international conducting career. The founder of his own recording label, Cala Records, Simon is also featured on a number of recordings for mainstream labels Koch International and Chandos. He has appeared as a guest conductor with a number of prominent orchestras around the world.
Born in Adelaide, Australia, Simon studied piano performance at the University of Melbourne. After his graduation in 1968, Simon left for the United States in order to pursue graduate studies in cello performance at the Juilliard School. He describes his time there as formative, but intense: "If you're in New York and you're going to have a neurosis, that's the place to have it — it was so intense, but at the same time, there were the most wonderful musical experiences happening."
In 1969, Simon moved to Bloomington, IN, so he could further his education as a cello student with noted pedagogue Janos Starker at Indiana University. That same year Simon also founded the Bloomington Symphony Orchestra. He remained music director there until he left for the United Kingdom in 1973.
Taking advantage of his close proximity to Europe, Simon studied with a number of prominent conductors including Herbert von Karajan, Rudolf Kempe, Hans Swarowsky, and Igor Markevitch. He also made a number of appearances with significant British orchestras in the mid-'70s, including the Bournemouth Symphony. Although his London debut took place soon after these successes, Simon was unable to cement himself onto a more permanent career footing. In 1977, he lost the John Player Conductor's Award to Simon Rattle.
Simon returned to the United States in 1978, first as a professor of music at the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee (until 1982), and later at North Texas State University in Denton (1982-1984). For three years, beginning in 1986, Simon served as the music director of the Albany Symphony Orchestra in New York. He held a similar position with the Sacramento Symphony from 1992 through 1996. Since 1997, Simon has been a conductor and advisor to the Northwest Mahler Festival.
In between his Albany and Sacramento appointments, Simon founded his own recording label Cala, based in London. In addition to featuring a number of Simon's own recordings, the label has featured some of London's finest instrumentalists in a series known as the London Sound. Simon has also been influential in releasing a large number of previously unavailable historical recordings conducted by Leopold Stokowski.
Some of Simon's later recordings include Danny Boy: The Immortal Irish Song (2006) and Milestones: 30 Years of Chandos (2009).