The Musical Mind #25: Bekah Simms and Amahl Arulanandam

  • October 26th, 2021

Episode 25 of The Musical Mind features interviews with composer Bekah Simms and cellist Amahl Arulanandam ahead of the World Premiere of Simms’ new work Foreverdark, on April 5th at Trinity St. Paul’s Centre. The Musical Mind spotlights prominent figures in the world of contemporary classical music – musicians and composers who perform with Esprit Orchestra.

Bekah Simms is a JUNO Award-nominated composer. Her varied output has been heralded as “nuanced and complex” (NOW Magazine) and “cacophonous, jarring, oppressive — and totally engrossing” (CBC Music.) Propelled equally by fascination and terror toward the universe, her work is often filtered through the personal lens of her anxiety. Foremost among her current compositional interests is quotation and the friction between recognizability and complete obfuscation. 

“Foreverdark” both references the song with a similar name (Foreverdark Woods) by Viking metal artist Bathory as well as the composer’s long and somewhat nostalgic relationship to the metal genre itself.

This cello concertino (short concerto) uses short melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic quotations from a variety of heavy metal sources, ranging from the aforementioned Bathory, to industrial Canadian metal band Strapping Young Lad, to Armenian-American nu metal band System of a Down.

In the “classical” realm of Toronto, cellist Amahl Arulanandam is quickly becoming known as a strong advocate for the music of our time, performing with ensembles such as Soundstreams, New Music Concerts, Tapestry Opera, FAWN Chamber Creative, Caution-Tape Sound Collective, Thin-Edge New Music Collective (TENMC), Music in the Barns and Esprit Orchestra, as well as regular appearances at the 21C Music Festival.  

A special thank you to Dan Tapper, who designed and implemented the live electronics for this piece.


Since 2002, the New Wave Composers Festival has consistently been a lively forum for young and emerging composers and performers to exchange ideas, meet the public, participate in seminars and panel discussions, and plan for participation in future Esprit events. The festival is a rendezvous, creating a sense of cohesion for new generations of creators, interpreters, and promoters of today’s music.

The New Wave Reprise is being presented Friday April 5th, 7pm at Trinity St. Paul’s Centre.