Benjamin Simon, a native of San Francisco, has performed around the world as a violist with the New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Music from Marlboro, and the Naumberg Award-winning New World String Quartet. He has served as principal violist with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, the New Century Chamber Orchestra, and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra.
Mr. Simon studied viola and chamber music with Raphael Hillyer at Yale College, receiving his B.A. magna cum laude. He was a scholarship student of Lillian Fuchs in the graduate program at the Juilliard School and was awarded the Joseph Machlis Prize for an outstanding instrumentalist on the graduate level upon his graduation.
Mr. Simon has studied and performed chamber music with members of the Budapest, Guarneri, Amadeus, Galimir, and Juilliard String Quartets. He has recorded for MCA Classics, Vox, Musical Heritage Society, Centaur, CRI, and Laurel Records, and was awarded Grand Prix du Disque in 1991 with the New World String Quartet, performing string quartets of Debussy, Ravel, and Dutilleux.
A champion of contemporary music, Mr. Simon has premiered numerous works for viola, string quartet, and other ensembles. He has performed with the Yale Spectrum, New York’s Speculum Musicae, Los Angeles’ Composers in Red Sneakers series, and with the San Francisco and Berkeley Contemporary Music Players.
Mr. Simon has taught at Harvard University and joined the faculty of Stanford University in 1992 as a member of the Stanford String Quartet. He has been on the UC Berkeley music faculty since 1998, coaching chamber music and teaching viola lessons.
Mr. Simon was director of The Crowden School in Berkeley from 1999-2002.
In addition to an active performing career as a violist and chamber musician, Mr. Simon is also Music Director of the award-winning youth ensemble Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra and the professional San Francisco Chamber Orchestra.