Described as “one of the most important musicians of his generation" (ThreeWeeks), Simon Thacker is a composer, classical guitarist, improviser and ensemble leader. His ever expanding musical world develops new possibilities through a deep immersion in diverse cultures.
As well as touring as a classical guitar soloist whose music expands the soundworld of the instrument, Simon has also developed some of today’s most prescient ensembles, all of which exclusively perform his original compositions and reimaginings.
Simon Thacker’s Svara-Kanti is a world leading Indo-Western community of lineups expanding on Hindustani, Carnatic, Punjabi folk and Baul spiritual influences. This has seen him tour and collaborate at major festivals in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, including for an audience of 60 000 in Dhaka and at The Sacred Pushkar, one of the region’s biggest sacred music festivals. Their 2018 Trikala double album was acclaimed across the world, notably in India and Bangladesh in major periodicals such as The Hindu, Times of India and Rolling Stone India, and won a Scottish New Music Award in 2019.
Simon Thacker's Ritmata is Simon's musical laboratory with three of Europe’s leading improvisers (classical guitar, piano, bass, drums).
Karmana with Polish cellist Justyna Jablonska seeks a new vision for chamber music. Songs of the Roma with Justyna and Roma singer/violinist exponent Masha Natanson envisions a new Romany musical journey.
All of these groups have been selected for the prestigious Made in Scotland showcase. In the studio he has taken the backwards recording technique pioneered by Jimi Hendrix and the Beatles to new heights.
Simon's pieces have been played on radio in over 50 countries. As an educator, he has been classical guitar tutor at Edinburgh Napier University and Edinburgh College for over fifteen years. He has performed as soloist with many orchestras, including the RSNO.
In December 2019 he toured his new Pashyanti solo programme in India, including Goa and Gurgaon International Jazz Festivals, and the Delhi "Giants of Jazz" series. Pashyanti was selected to represent the country as part of the Made in Scotland showcase live at the 2021 Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
Simon has recently collaborated with gifted dancers: in 2021 he released a digital show iteration of Pashyanti as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and invited Mumbai born Rambert dancer Aishwarya Raut in a film of stunning cinematography and beguiling performances; MaNN Vasanai (from Svara-Kanti's Trikala album) was turned into a dance choreography by Piah Dance company in 2019.
In February 2020 Simon presented an instrumental trio incarnation of Simon Thacker's Svara-Kanti at Celtic Connections. In March 2020 he brought the India and Bangladesh based Bengali Baul spiritual lineup of Svara-Kanti to tour Scotland. His latest album Tàradh, with Simon Thacker's Ritmata, was released in November 2019. The centerpiece of the album, Quadriga in 5, was nominated for the Ivors Composer Awards, the most prestigious in the UK. In July 2020 Simon brought together 19 leading musicians from 9 countries for his transformation of We Shall Overcome. His next album release will be with Songs of the Roma.
"I cannot think of a guitarist of our time who has done more to push the guitar [and music for the guitar] beyond the limits for which the instrument has been designed to a greater degree than Simon Thacker...unique genius" World Music Report (Canada)
"Impossible delicacy and dexterity...wove a kind of magic which has live performance at its heart." The Scotsman (Scotland)
"A truly brilliant player" Classical Guitar Magazine (USA)
"Scottish guitarist Simon Thacker has been a longtime interest/favourite at Elsewhere after we came across him almost a decade ago." Elsewhere (New Zealand)
"Innovative genre-defying music and entertaining banter enchanted the CJC audience...Much to marvel at...A master of the unexpected" jazzlocal32 (New Zealand)
The leader of the pack clearly is Simon Thacker. His playing affects an ethereal beauty that is unsurpassed by most musicians today... Not only is Mr. Thacker a sublime technician but his artistry seems to soar above that of most mere mortals. His ability to extract such meaning and expression from merely six nylon strings speaks of true genius." The World Music Report (Canada)
“Simon Thacker's musical life has been a journey through genres, histories, cultures and philosophies...remarkable, powerfully energetic” Elsewhere (New Zealand)
“A multifaceted exposition into a staggering range of musical styles and traditions. Thacker’s passion for discovery has led to him immersing himself in Roma gypsy culture, Indian classical music and his native Scotland’s folk scene, to name but a few. Thacker reimagines these ancient traditions to fit a future tense.” Channel7A
"I dare you to not be amazed at the deft virtuosity (not to mention compositional powers) of Simon Thacker." classical.net
"Guitarist Simon Thacker transcends the instrument and persuades it to produce music loaded with subtle nuances and character." Classical Music Sentinel (Canada)
"The guitar is often underrated as a solo instrument, but Thacker demonstrated with startling virtuosity just how versatile and exciting it can be in the right hands." The Scotsman
" Simon Thacker hasn't re-interpreted world music (more accurately traditional music forms from Scotland to India and many points of Roma gypsy travels between). He's completely reinvented it." FabricationsHQ
“Simon Thacker’s compositions and reworkings demonstrate his skill and sensitivity in the teeth of what amounts to a considerably complex and original journey with little precedent.” edinburghguide.com