Now Hear This: an Interview with Carnell Simmons, Assistant Festival Director

Carnell Simmons headshot

Now Hear This: An Interview with Carnell Simmons

Carnell Simmons, a flute performance major and arts administration minor at TCU, joins FACP’s staff this summer as Assistant Festival Director for the 2016 Basically Beethoven Festival. The internship is provided by the 2016 ExxonMobil Community Summer Jobs Program. Carnell, an incoming senior, has staged his own flute conference in the Brazos Valley area and plans to start a non-profit organization with the goal of uplifting the youth through arts, leadership, and education. Welcome, Carnell!


What is your favorite piece being performed during the 2016 Basically Beethoven Festival, and why?

The Festival is filled with an amazing amount of exciting works, but I would have to say my favorite is Ligeti’sSix Bagatelles” [on the July 10 program]. When I was 12, I heard this piece performed by a quintet from the Houston Symphony. I was delighted by their mastery that day, and every time I hear the work I have fond memories of that period in my life where I was still trying to figure things out musically.


What do you love about chamber music? Have you played it before? How is it different from playing in a symphony?

Chamber music is an invitation to express a story through conversation. You take different voices and colors from the orchestra and meld them together. In my experience, I have found that the sea of colors that a symphony supplies separates into a delicate pointillism that chamber music brings.


How old were you when you started playing flute? Why did you choose that instrument?

I started playing flute in the 5th grade. I actually despised playing the flute because I thought it was a “girl’s instrument” and at that age I didn’t want anything to do with it. But, between 7th and 8th grade band I heard Sir James Galway play the flute and I felt so empowered hearing such a majestic sound coming from a male flute player. It became my dream at that age to be like him. Even now, I continue to love the flute more and more.


What types of music do you listen to?

I listen to everything under the sun. I always find it funny that one moment my iPod will go from Josh Turner’s “Time is Love” to “Welcome to the Renaissance” from the Broadway show Something Rotten to Mozart’s Concerto in G Major.


Who’s your favorite composer to listen to? To play?

When listening or playing music I can’t say that I have a favorite composer because each composition can express a completely different mood or tell a completely different story. I always have a strong connection with each piece that I am playing, so my favorite composers and pieces to play are those that I’m working on at the moment.


What’s your favorite sound (musical or non-musical)? Least favorite?

My favorite sound is silence. The silence that you hear when you are walk down an empty street or jogging before the sun breaks above the horizon. My least favorite sound is the scraping of Styrofoam which literally makes me grit my teeth and my skin crawls.


Once you leave this world and reach the pearly gates, what celestial concert are you looking forward to?

I would love to hear a concert performed by Paganini. His virtuosity intrigues me and I love every opportunity that I get to play his 24 caprices on flute.

Fine Arts Chamber Players