ORCHESTRATOR, ARRANGER, COMPOSER, MUSICAL SUPERVISOR
Current and future credits include: STRICTLY BALLROOM (West End), GIRL FROM THE NORTH COUNTRY (The Public Theater, New York) and ALICE BY HEART (MCC Theater, New York).
Theatre credits include: GIRL FROM THE NORTH COUNTRY (Orchestrations, Arrangements and Musical Supervision, Old Vic/West End); GUYS AND DOLLS (Orchestrations, Royal Exchange); ROMANTICS ANONYMOUS (Orchestrations, Shakespeare’s Globe); WHISPER HOUSE (Arrangements, The Other Palace/Old Globe, San Diego); ONE LOVE: THE BOB MARLEY MUSICAL (Birmingham Rep); STRICTLY BALLROOM (West Yorkshire Playhouse); SPRING AWAKENING (Atlantic Theatre Company, Broadway, US Tour, West End); WOMEN ON THE VERGE OF A NERVOUS BREAKDOWN (Broadway/West End - Drama Desk Award nomination); FINDING NEVERLAND (American Repertory Theatre, Broadway, US Tour); SIDE SHOW (Southwark Playhouse); COMPANY (Crucible Theatre, Sheffield).
In 2018, Simon earned an ‘outstanding achievement in music’ Olivier Award nomination for his original orchestrations and arrangements of Bob Dylan’s music in GIRL FOR THE NORTH COUNTRY, which premiered at the Old Vic.
Film and TV credits include: SPECTRE (Orchestrating “Writing’s On The Wall”and additional underscore); A HOME AT THE END OF THE WORLD (arranging); G.I.JANE (additional music production); THE VOTE RACE (BBC TV – composer); LOVE AND DEATH ON LONG ISLAND (arranger); STILL CRAZY (keyboard player); LITTLE SPIRIT: CHRISTMAS IN NEW YORK (arranger).
Simon has written arrangements and orchestrations for: Gary Barlow; George Benson; Björk; Mary J. Blige; Ian Brown; Sarah Chang; Ray Davies; Celine Dion; Paloma Faith; Frances; Robin Gibb; Incognito; Josh Groban; Jamiroquai; Alicia Keys; Lang Lang; Lemar; Madness; George Michael; Oasis; Rita Ora; Sade; Duncan Sheik; Simply Red; Sam Smith; and Supergrass.
He orchestrated and co-composed the soundtrack for the video game L.A.NOIRE which, along with Andrew Hale, won him a BAFTA for Original Music.
Simon pioneered the on-stage composing technique with John Metcalfe in their collaboration with The Bays. All the music is composed live on stage and fed to the musicians via a series of LCD screens as part of the improvised performance.
Simon studied music at Goldsmiths College, London and went on to play keyboards for many artists including Gail Ann Dorsey and Seal. He released a solo record EAST FIFTEEN in 1994 which then led on to his work as an arranger for records. As a result of their recording collaboration, Duncan Sheik asked Simon to co-orchestrate Spring Awakening on Broadway in 2006 which began his work as an orchestrator for musical theatre. After working on Sam Smith's record IN THE LONELY HOUR (for which Simon received a Grammy nomination) Simon orchestrated and conducted the Golden Globe and Oscar-winning WRITING'S ON THE WALL from the James Bond film SPECTRE as well as conducting the orchestra for the live performance at the Academy Awards in February 2016.
GIRL FROM THE NORTH COUNTRY TRIUMPHS OFF-BROADWAY ★★★★★
Now playing at the Public Theatre, NY, Girl from the North Country has received rave critical acclaim from audiences and critics alike; with Sound Design by Simon Baker and Orchestrations by Simon Hale.
New York Times
‘As arranged and orchestrated by the British composer Simon Hale — in collaboration with Mr. McPherson, the show’s director as well as its writer — the songs exist in self-sufficient independence of their creator’s gravelly, much imitated voice. You hear them ripening into new fullness.’
‘It’s performed as a sort of hoedown celebration, with dancing that defines each participant as an idiosyncratic individual and as part of a synchronized whole. You may find yourself thinking that this is as close as mortals come to heaven on Earth. And for just a few, infinitely precious moments, a radiance eclipses the all-devouring night.’
‘Few of the other 19 numbers in this gorgeous evening — an intimate elegy to a time of American sorrow, in the manner of Thornton Wilder or August Wilson — will be as instantly recognizable to newcomers to Dylan as “Rolling Stone.” But if by night’s end you are not definitively convinced of the songwriter’s theatrically friendly gifts, talents that also have made him the sole rock-and-roll Nobel Prize laureate in literature, then you’ll be bewildered by all of the customers around you, daubing their eyes as they file out of the Public’s Newman Theater with you.’
‘Hearing his lyrics given such distinctive vocal interpretations, coupled with the gorgeous, period-styled orchestrations of Simon Hale for a five-piece band on piano and strings, elevates the songs' raw emotional power.’
If McPherson’s characters shall not be released from their suffering, the playwright allows them, and us, deliverance through Dylan’s music—gloriously arranged by Simon Hale, whose orchestrations embrace Dylan’s folk and blues roots while providing soulful showcases for singers of, frankly, much greater prowess. Cast members join the musicians on stage, shaking tambourines and other percussion instruments (a few have turns at the drum set) during production numbers that can blossom from drunken gatherings or just spring up, with shattering grace, at the most harrowing and even tragic moments.
OLIVER AWARD NOMINATIONS 2018
GIRL FROM THE NORTH COUNTRY has been nominated for an Outstanding Achievement in Music award for the original orchestrations and arrangements by Simon Hale, along with nominations for Best New Musical, Best Actress in a Musical, Best Actor in a Musical and Best Actress in a Supporting Role in a Musical. Currently playing in the West End after transferring from the Old Vic.
FOLLIES has also been nominated for an Outstanding Achievement in Music award for The Orchestra, under the music supervision of Nicholas Skilbeck and music director Nigel Lilley, as well as Best Lighting Design for Paule Constable. It also received a further seven nominations including Best Director and Best Musical Revival, and played at the Olivier, National Theatre until January 2018.
ANGELS IN AMERICA received a nomination for Best Lighting Design for Paule Constable, her second nomination in this category, and also received nominations for Best Revival, Best Actor and Best Director amongst others for its run at the Lyttleton, National Theatre.
ON THE TOWN received a nomination for Best Musical Revival after running at the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre with Lighting Design by Howard Hudson.
GIRL FROM THE NORTH COUNTRY Opens in the West End
GIRL FROM THE NORTH COUNTRY, written and directed by Conor McPherson transfers to the Noel Coward Theatre from the Old Vic. MLR’s Simon Hale is the Orchestrator, Arranger and Musical Supervisor, and Simon Baker is the Sound Designer.
The Telegraph ★★★★★
“in Simon Hale’s ravishing, folky re-imaginings, his music provides a mysterious, emotional other place for these lost and roaming souls and in doing so, seems to plumb new depths of yearning”
“Not very often, a piece of theatre comes along that radiates an ineffable magic”
The Times ★★★★★
“Simon Hale’s musical arrangements, which do unexpected, tender things”
“a show that transports the soul”
“something bewitchingly original. It’s pure stage magic.”
Broadway World ★★★★★
“Every now and then you see a show that reminds you why you love theatre. You sit there mesmerised by the spectacle, getting goosebumps at every word spoken. Then there's that specific moment that gives you everything you never knew you wanted. But you needed it, and you feel incredibly full afterwards. Girl from the North Country is that show.”
“If you've ever struggled, loved, risked, or dreamed, then this is the show for you. It's like nothing you've ever seen, and once you've witnessed it, you'll wonder how you ever lived without it.”
“A wide-ranging selection of Dylan's songs from across his remarkable career punctuates the piece with a poetic poignancy, deftly accompanied by a violin, double bass and drum kit.”
The Arts Desk ★★★★
“the most effective choices, gorgeously arranged by Simon Hale, instead catch onto a mood, thought or feeling – music suddenly illuminating drama via a sideways glance, and vice versa”
“Music, too, emphasises the themes of ambiguity of action, and the complexity of humanity”
The Stage ★★★★
“Simon Hale’s arrangements of the songs give the show an emotional heft and the quality and richness of the voices remains glorious.”
“The atmospheric staging, the narrative power of the music and the skill of the performances combine to create something magical…at once soaring and intimate”
The Evening Standard ★★★★
“Orchestrator Simon Hale has reworked the songs in surprising ways…there’s a gleaming brightness or haunting melancholy…each gives us access to a person’s soul.”
ROMANTICS ANONYMOUS opens at Shakespeare's Globe
ROMANTICS ANONYMOUS, with Music by Michael Kooman, Lyrics by Christopher Dimond and Book/Direction by Emma Rice, is on at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse until January.
It has Musical Supervision by Nigel Lilley, Orchestrations by Simon Hale and Sound Design by Simon Baker.
Broadway World ★★★★★
“you really will leave the theatre "dancing on air" and beaming from ear to ear”
The Telegraph ★★★★
“a lush, piping delight to the ear”
“champions mould-breaking fearlessness”
The Times ★★★★
“the Gallic songs played on acoustic instruments cast too strong a spell”
“an electric au revoir”
“The musical proves the ideal medium for the unspeakably shy: whimsical piano and woodwind-led songs give voice to the characters’ churning inner turmoil”
“something truly delicious”
“A sweet treat of a new musical, wrapped in fun and fancy, and bound up with a ribbon of magic.”
“The acoustics are nigh-on perfect”
“the warmth and intimate nature of the songs are perfect for the romantic Sam Wanamaker Playhouse”
The Stage ★★★★
“It melts your heart and tickles your fancy, leaving you giddy with laughter, tearful and elated.”
The Independent ★★★★
"an attractive Gallic whimsy to...the undulating score (played by a spot-on four-piece band)"
"a gracious, big-hearted swansong – an intimate, delectably joyous mix of the silly and the stirring"
The Guardian ★★★★
"a multifaceted gem, chock-full of love, generosity and joy, and it fits the space like a glove"
"funny and heartbreakingly sad"
The Financial Times ★★★★
"a delicate treat: tender and mischievous with darker undertones"
"rippling, witty Gallic-inflected score"
Simon Hale is Arranger, Orchestrator and Musical Supervisor on GIRL FROM THE NORTH COUNTRY
Written and Directed by Conor McPherson & with Music and Lyrics by Bob Dylan, GIRL FROM THE NORTH COUNTRY has Arrangements, Orchestrations and is Musically Supervised by Simon Hale. It runs at the Old Vic Theatre until October 7th.
The Guardian ★★★★★
it is the constant dialogue between the drama and the songs that makes this show exceptional”
“an astonishingly free-flowing production and the 19-strong cast, which includes three musicians, is so uniformly strong it is tough to pick out individuals”
The Observer ★★★★★
"One of the most transporting shows I have seen in years"
"In Simon Hale’s lovely arrangements, each number is refloated"
The Times ★★★★★
"an instant American classic”
“there are moments when you can just close your eyes and melt into the night”
The Evening Standard ★★★★★
“Songs sculpted into plaintive but beautiful new arrangements by Simon Hale”
“a conversation between the songs and the story and what a conversation it is, beguiling and soulful and quietly, exquisitely, heartbreaking”
The Sunday Times ★★★★
"songs expand the emotional palette: direct and gnomic, raging and desiring"
“the arrangements - by Simon Hale - are ravishing, songs building through bare vocals then layered with fiddle and an omnipresent kick drum played by whatever member of the cast happens to be walking past. Certainly they more than make a case for Dylan’s body of work”
The Stage ★★★★
“Simon Hale’s musical arrangements are glorious and the mixture of story…and song works incredibly well”
“In the end, the power of the music wins out and the show sends you out on a high”
The New York Times
“Simon Hale’s glorious retrofitted orchestrations”
“subliminal beauty, as rousing as it is heartbreaking, shimmers through”