Jan Simons. Baritone, teacher, administrator, b Düsseldorf, Germany, 11 Nov 1925, naturalized Canadian 1944 - d Montreal 7 May 2006. Simons studied voice with Emilio de Gogorza in New York 1950-3, with Emmy Heim and Ernesto Vinci at the Royal Conservatory of Music 1953-8, and with Yvonne Rodd-Marling in London in 1970.
Simons gave numerous recitals, specializing in lieder, and sang in radio and TV oratorio performances in Canada, Europe, and Japan. He was a soloist at the Stratford Festival's first concert in 1955 and sang the vocal part in the Canadian premiere (1956) of the ballet Dark Elegies (to Mahler's Kindertotenlieder) by the National Ballet of Canada. He recorded a duet recital with Elizabeth Benson Guy for CBC (RCI 199) and in 1964 was a soloist with the Montreal Bach Choir in the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) film Selections from the Christmas Oratorio.
As Administrator and Teacher
He was a founding member of the Festival Singers and in 1969 became director general of Canadian Amateur Musicians-Musiciens amateurs du Canada (CAMMAC). Simons continued his involvement with CAMMAC, serving as artistic adviser and founder of the program for advanced voice studies. He oversaw the Quebec Competitive Music Festival, and has served on jury committees for the Juno Awards (2003), the Quebec Opus Prize, and the Montreal Symphony Orchestra Voice Competition (2004). In addition, Simons was a member of the Faculty of Music at McGill University 1961-93, and taught Ruth Barrie, Desmond Byrne, and Stephanie Marshall. He also taught at CAMMAC beginning in 1957, Marianopolis College 1963-7, and Vanier College 1973-7. Although retired, Simons conducted classes in song interpretation at McGill and taught privately. Most recently, his pupils included Michiel Schrey and Matthew White. Simons was honoured with the Prix Hommage in 2005.