"Music and life have always held synonymous meanings for me," Emily Simko says. "I have no doubt that my relationship with music actually began before I was even born. My father, a very dedicated classical violinist who was originally from Prague, came to Toronto, Canada, during the mid-40's and became impassioned by the contemporary sound of that era, particularly Big Band. My childhood home was filled with either the fluid vibrations of his rosewood violin as he practiced the classics or with the blaring notes of his clarinet as he explored the contemporaries. Since my mother, his #1 admirer and biggest fan, would hardly ever leave his side, it's very likely that my first experience with the world awaiting me beyond her womb was through the resonant frequencies of my father's playing."
Simko's parents hoped their young daughter would one day become a virtuoso classical concert pianist, so music lessons became part of her life by age two. Her first instrument was, she says "a very sweet miniature ebony and ivory-keyed toy piano" which Simko would fill with odd objects just to see what would happen. An upright piano became part of the family when Sinko turned three, with private lessons following soon after. She laughingly admits, "I managed to show that piano teacher everything she would ever want to know about the piano. These efforts landed me at the Toronto Conservatory of Music where I started to study classical piano at the perfectly ripe age of four."
"Memories of these early experiences with my parents in Toronto are but a stream of musical events," Simko explaining, "from classical symphonies in city parks to smoke-filled, hopping Big Band dance clubs that laced the city streets; from the soothing voice of my father's classical violin lamenting into the night to wild and furious Sunday afternoons with a house full of wailing Jazz musicians; from piano lessons and my own endless daily practices to dreaded performance nights at the conservatory."
Her life changed dramatically when Simko was 7 ½ , with the tragic and shocking death of her father, the center of her world. Her piano studies started to take less precedence, and when her mother remarried and moved the family to the White Mountains of Northern New Hampshire, Simko stopped playing the piano completely. Ten years passed. Simko grew up, created her own home, and then one day, she says, "I awoke with an undeniable and incredible urge to play; not because it was expected of me, but because I deeply desired to do so." Within a few short hours, a giant upright ebony and ivory-keyed instrument became part of her family once more. Simko says she finally "knew a circle within myself had been completed and that 'music' and 'life' had once again become one and the same."
Though she could barely remember how to read and her technique was less than perfect, Simko found she could play with a passion never before experienced. "The very emotions and feeling I had so cleverly kept hidden from myself for so many years were now overflowing from my fingertips and spilling out onto the keys, compelling me to express them in melody and in song," she says. In the mid-80's, she played a state-of-the-art synthesizer for the first time, noting that the experience catalyzed "me into a completely new musical direction which was reflecting the new direction that my life was also taking at the time."
Simko believes that all instruments are created to mirror the consciousness of those who play upon them. The synthesizer has brought her the freedom to compose from a more ethereal, multi-dimensional sound palette; to capture in heart and in soul, in mind and in spirit "our inter-dimensional connection to the rhythmic motion of time and space, and to our own divine essence." These connections were also explored by Simko's contemporaries on some of the 1980's most intuitive works, including Yearning and Harmony by Triatma, Ray Lynch's Deep Breakfast and Light of the Spirit by Kitaro.
Simko's original compositions were crafted as aural explorations into altered and elevated states of consciousness; her aim "as a musician and composer is to reconnect listeners to the mystical circuitry within from which magic flows." Deeply and continually influenced by Dr. Jose Arguelles' universal principles of movement and measure in her own music; the track "Inside the Mystic Column" on Excursions is one example of this philosophy in sound.
She confides, "It never really occurred to me that I might compose and record professionally, but I made a deep, heart-felt commitment to sound and music in April of 1990 at the Wang Center for the Performing Arts, in Boston. Standing under the billboard amid the hundreds of other people who had also come to see Kitaro on his Kojiki concert tour, I was quite suddenly overcome by a longing to bring my own music to the ears of many. It's my feeling that once an emotionally-charged decision to bring forth our life dreams and visions is made; once we fully vibrate to the frequencies of our own creative energy, a very powerful and magical universal circuitry is activated and a pulsating synchronicity begins to provide what may be needed, moment by moment."
"In retrospect," she continues, "this is the very mysterious mechanism by which my partner / co-producer / engineer Jon French and myself have come together as one entity in the merging of our lives in love and in music." In 1995 Simko and French co-produced a debut album, Earth Project: Music by Simko, for their own Music Medicine Records. "It was done on a very simple analog recording system," Simko remembers," and although the package was homespun and our promotion budget was virtually non-existent, the air play that album received was extraordinary! Even the music reviews were very wonderful and promising."
This welcoming response to their first excursion into the professional music business made Simko and Jon eager to try it again. First, they expanded their recording studio, experimenting with new equipment, sounds, techniques and innovations. Then, Simko began writing the tunes that would be realized as Excursions. She explains, "The intent behind this album is best communicated through its musical content. The orchestral string arrangements were inspired from the memories of my father's rosewood violin calling me into the dreamtime, and I've often stopped to wonder if the string submelodies could be somehow his; as if he was communicating them through me. The ambient space sounds are inspired from the journeys I've taken into the vastness of my own inner landscape, to a time and a space that lies beyond."
"Not unlike the experimental 3-year-old I once was," she enthuses, "when I'm in the studio, I'm completely consumed in the moment of creative play; and with a passion unmatched in any other area of my life, excluding my ever-growing family. It sometimes requires a good amount of discipline to end a session when other areas of my life are deserving of attention. Consequently, lack of inspiration is very rarely an issue. There are as many reasons to write a song as there are experiences to have."
In its entirety, Excursions was especially created from the resonant frequencies of a waking dream: a light-inspired, deeply moving orchestral space fantasy for drifting off into timeless reflection, star gazing, cosmic dancing, and inter-dimensional odysseys to the fringes of the next reality. This is not surprising since Simko's favorite part about being a musician is the ability to contribute to the betterment of our human condition through the medium she loves as much as life itself. She quotes the words of Inayat Kahn, "The existence of illness in the body may be called a shadow of true illness which is held by man in his mind. By the power of music the mind may become exalted so that it rises above the thought of illness; then the illness is forgotten."
Simko currently resides in the Monadnock Region of Southern New Hampshire with Jon French, a peach tree and their music studio.
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