Simon Fink is a composer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist. His music has been called “delicate, intriguing, shadowy, (and) suddenly new” (NPR) and “refreshing” (The Kansas City Star). He brings a wide-ranging background and classically-trained ear to genres from opera to electronic music to the American folk song. He currently writes and performs with the folk/bluegrass quartet Under the Big Oak Tree.
Simon has received honors from the Academy of Arts and Letters, the MacDowell Colony, and the New York Youth Symphony, and his works have been featured by The Museum of Modern Art (NY), the Aspen Music Festival, and the Staunton Music Festival. His past collaborations include projects with Grammy winning musicians eighth blackbird, the Pacifica Quartet, the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Kevin McMillan, and Ian Howell, as well as Uniondocs, Ensemble Iberica, and Tunisia88.
In 2009 Simon became the first composer to win the prestigious ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composers Award for a piece involving live-realized electronic sounds (Electric Pastoral). In 2011 he was awarded a prize for his music-architectural collaboration, Dock & Load, at the Music in Architecture — Architecture in Music Symposium at the University of Texas. In 2017 the Myanmar Music Festival commissioned two songs from him that toured throughout that country to great response.
Simon began violin lessons at age three when some friends found an abandoned 1/8th sized violin on a bus and offered it to his parents. In order to secure a place in a friend’s band in middle school, he took up the bass guitar and later the guitar, mandolin, and banjo. In high school he studied violin at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts with Kevin Lawrence. He holds a B.A. in History and a B.M. in Composition from Rice University and a Ph.D. in Music Composition from the University of Chicago where he was a Mellon Fellow and studied with Shulamit Ran, Marta Ptaszynska, and Howard Sandroff.
Simon has served on the teaching faculty at the University of Chicago, William Jewell College, and Missouri Western State University and on the boards of newEar Contemporary Chamber Ensemble and KcEMA (Kansas City Electronic Music & Arts Alliance).
Benjamin Parks (b. 1978, Fairfax, Missouri) is a Kansas City based artist whose primary focus is painting large-scale portraits and figurative work. He is also involved in illustrations, interactive installations, music, printmaking and sculpture. As a visual artist, he has shown many original works in galleries and art spaces throughout the country, including the Leedy Voulkous Art Center, the Foundry Arts Centre, the Lawrence Arts Center, the Cee Flat Gallery in Brooklyn, NY, the KCAC, and the Hilliard Gallery. Parks’ paintings, sculptures and interactive pieces have been commissioned for private collections throughout the country. Parks has also performed at the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art.