Professor Emeritus of Composition
Composer, pianist, conductor and educator, Simon Sargon was born in Mumbai, India in 1938 and brought to America at an early age. After initial studies at the Longy School of Music in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Sargon obtained degrees from Brandeis University (B. A. in music, magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, Class Valedictorian) and The Juilliard School (M. S. in composition, 1962). He pursued further studies at Kneisel Hall Chamber Music School in Blue Hill, Maine, the Aspen Music Festival and School, and the Tanglewood Institute. Among his major teachers were Darius Milhaud, Irving Fine, Vincent Persichetti, Miecyslaw Horszowski and Sergius Kagen.
While living in New York from 1960-1971, Sargon was a recital partner for famed mezzo-soprano Jennie Tourel in concerts and master classes throughout the United States and abroad, including the Peabody Conservatory, the University of North Carolina and the University of Chicago. Among their performances together was a concert at Carnegie Hall in 1963 memorializing composer Francis Poulenc. Also during this time, he served on the musical staff of the New York City Center Opera, the Lincoln Center State Theatre, Sarah Lawrence College and The Juilliard School.
After receiving a grant from the America-Israel Cultural Foundation in 1971, Sargon relocated to Jerusalem, Israel to take a position as head of the voice and opera department at the Rubin Academy of Music and serve as a visiting lecturer at Hebrew University. He also concertized throughout the country and was invited to give a solo piano recital at the Israel Museum.
In 1974, Sargon was appointed director of music at Temple Emanu-El in Dallas, Texas, one of the largest Reform congregations in America. During his 27-year tenure, Sargon established himself as a major creative figure in contemporary American Jewish music. His wide range of Jewish liturgical music includes two complete Friday evening services, a Sabbath morning service and numerous solo and choral works, and is performed regularly in synagogues across America. During this time, he brought the Temple Emanu-El Adult Choir into prominence in the larger Jewish community, touring extensively in the United States and Israel and to Jewish communities in Mexico City, Toronto, London, Dublin, Birmingham, Paris, Amsterdam, Vienna, Prague and Budapest. The Temple Emanu-El Choir premiered his work Elul Midnight- A Cantata of Penitence with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra in 1984 and was invited to present a concert at the U. S. Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. in 1996.
Sargon has served as composer-in-residence and received commissions from leading temples throughout the country and, as emeritus at Temple Emanu-El, continues to consult and collaborate with cantors and other temple musicians on creative projects. He is a fellow of the Center for Jewish Culture and Creativity and participated in the Center's First International Symposium held in Jerusalem in 1996. In 2003, the American Conference of Cantors made him an honorary member in recognition of his achievements and for "his outstanding contributions to Jewish Music and Jewish Life." In the fall of 2006, Sargon was one of ten composers selected from throughout the country to be a panelist and present his music at the "Lost Legacy Conference" in New York, an event sponsored by Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, School of Sacred Music, which explored the music of the past generation of Jewish liturgical composers.
Many of Sargon's Jewish-themed concert works have been performed widely at music festivals and in concert series in the U. S. and abroad, including such venues as the Pittsburgh Jewish Music Festival, Music of Remembrance (Seattle, WA) and the Los Angeles Jewish Symphony series. Artists of the Orchestre National de Bordeaux Aquitaine performed his works at a Holocaust remembrance program in the Grande Synagogue of Bordeaux, France. His work for solo clarinet and piano, KlezMuzik, has circled the globe, being featured on a U. S. State Department tour of Africa and on a tour of Asia where it was performed at the Central University of the Nationalities and the Contemporary Music Academy, both in Beijing, and at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music in Shanghai, China, among other venues.
Since 1983 Sargon has been on the faculty of Southern Methodist University, where he currently serves as Professor of Composition. The Dallas Symphony Orchestra has premiered three of his works to critical acclaim (Elul Midnight; Symphony No. 1: Holocaust; Tapestries), and his instrumental and vocal works have been performed nationally and internationally. His music has been featured regularly on Dr. Karl Haas's nationally syndicated program "Adventures in Good Music" and has also been the subject of numerous doctoral dissertations.
Notable commissions include the Dallas Symphony Orchestra (Haas Trio; Toward the Light), Meadows Foundation (Saul, King of Israel), Yale University (Psalm 8), Voices of Change (Fantasy on 'The Miller's Tears'; Shema) and the Dallas Holocaust Society (Ash un Flamen). The Texas Music Teachers Association named Sargon its commissioned composer twice, in 1994 (Dusting Around with Scott's Rag) and 2003 (Sonic Portals). Sargon has received the Annual Award of Recognition from ASCAP (1991-present). He was named a finalist in the National Opera Association Competition (1997, The Singing Violin) and awarded first prize in the National Association of Teachers of Singing competition (1993, Waves of the Sea).
In 2007 Sargon was in residence with the Northwest German Philharmonic in Hanover, Germany, where he supervised a recording of his orchestral work, Tapestries, to be broadcast throughout Germany and the European Union. The American Conference of Cantors paid tribute to Sargon at its 2008 national convention in San Francisco, California, with a concert of his works. In the same year, Southern Methodist University honored him with the Meadows Foundation 2008-2009 Distinguished Professor Award and he was a 2009 recipient of the prestigious Sam Taylor Fellowship Award. The Sam Taylor is granted to faculty members of United Methodist colleges and universities in Texas and awarded based on a project's expected contributions to the improvement of the quality of intellectual, community or religious life of the state of Texas and the nation.
Sargon's special interest in creating works for young people is reflected in his many compositions for youth choir. Sing God's Praise, a Friday evening service for youth choir, was commissioned and recorded in its entirety by the Children's Choir of Temple Rodeph Shalom in New York and has gone into its second printing at Transcontinental Music. Transcontinental Music has also published Sargon's A Voice Called, a work for youth choir with narrations and musical settings of the poetry of Hannah Senesh, a hero of the Holocaust. It was written not just for performance in a Jewish setting, but as a meaningful artistic vehicle for use in Holocaust awareness and education programs in schools and other mainstream venues.
The Dallas Symphony Orchestra featured Sargon's delightful work, The Town Musicians of Bremen, at its opening concert of the 2009-2010 Family Concert Series. This work for narrator and orchestra was adapted by the composer from the story by The Brothers Grimm. Following its successful premiere at Tufts University in 2006, it has been performed to enthusiastic response in venues as diverse as the University of Missouri-Columbia's summer music festival (with the Missouri Contemporary Ballet); twice at Southern Methodist University (with the Meadows School of the Arts Division of Dance); and twice on young people's concerts at Music in the Mountains in Durango, Colorado (with the Pagosa Springs Youth Drama Group). The Dallas Symphony Orchestra's performance included the participation of the Dallas Black Dance Theater.
Sargon's works are published by Boosey & Hawkes, Southern Music, Hal Leonard, Transcontinental Music Publications, and Lawson-Gould, among others. His work as both composer and pianist may be heard on the Crystal, Ongaku, Klavier and New World labels. The Gasparo label has devoted three CDs exclusively to his compositions (Shema, Flame of the Lord, and A Clear Midnight) and two of Sargon's compositions were selected for inclusion in the Milken Archives Collection of 20th Century American Jewish Music (Shema and At Grandfather's Knee). Sargon is listed in Baker's Biography of Musicians (7th edition) and the International Who's Who in Music (11th edition).
EducationM.S. in Composition, The Juilliard School, 1962;
B.A. in Music, Brandeis University (magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, class valedictorian);
Major teachers include Darius Milhaud, Vincent Persichetti, Miecyslaw Horszowski, Irving Fine and Sergius Kagen.
Currently researching ancient and extant texts for a large-scale choral/orchestral composition.
TeachingComposition; Contemporary Song Literature; German Lieder; French Art Song; Music Theory (entire cycle); French diction; Italian diction; Orchestration; Form and Analysis; Vocal Coaching
Sargon's compositions are published by Boosey & Hawkes, Southern Music, Hal Leonard and Transcontinental Music Publications, among others. His work as both composer and pianist may be heard on the Crystal, Ongaku, Klavier and New World labels. The Gasparo label has devoted three CDs exclusively to his compositions and two of Sargon's compositions were selected for inclusion in the Milken Archives Collection of 20th Century American Jewish Music to be recorded on the Naxos label.
Numerous commissions and awards, including Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Meadows Foundation, Yale University, and Voices of Change.
Recipient of the 2008-2009 Meadows Foundation Distinguished Professor Award and the 2009 Sam Taylor Fellowship Award. Finalist in the National Opera Association Competition and awarded First Prize in the National Association of Teachers of Singing competition. The Dallas Symphony Orchestra has performed three of his works to critical acclaim and recently premiered his work for narrator and orchestra, The Town Musicians of Bremen, on the opening concert of its 2009-2010 Family Concert series.