Johanna Hill Simpson: 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient

Johanna "Jody" Hill Simpson founded and, for 16 years, directed the PALS Children’s Chorus (now known as VOICES Boston), and more recently founded and is Artistic Director of Music on Norway Pond, in Hancock, NH.  Her thirty-five years of dedication to the choral arts in New England have created an extraordinary legacy of choral excellence for singers of all ages and continue to produce some of New England’s most compelling and memorable musical experiences for participants and audiences alike.

From very modest beginnings in 1990, the PALS Children’s Chorus grew to become a key collaborator with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Boston Pops, Cantata Singers, Boston Lyric Opera, Boston Early Music Festival, and other orchestras in Boston, New York, Washington DC, and at Tanglewood. Simpson’s PALS chorus performed with such artists as Seiji Ozawa, James Levine, Yo Yo Ma, Henri Dutilleux, Tan Dun, Raphael Frubeck DeBurgos, James Conlon, Marek Janowski, Tod Machover, David Hoose, Keith Lockart, and even Nathan Lane and Celine Dion. 

Since moving to New Hampshire in 2006, Simpson has catalyzed the growth of another extraordinary musical community. She founded Music on Norway Pond, which presents a high quality and affordable concert series, often in conjunction with the New England Conservatory.  She conducts the Norway Pond Festival Singers, a chorus of 30-50 men and women, and the Junior Minstrels, a non-auditioned group of children between age 6 and 13, which made its Tanglewood debut in Summer 2017, singing Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana with the Boston Symphony. During that same season, three of her young singers performed Henri Dutilleux's The Shadows of Time with the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra, the fourth set of children she has trained for this piece—including the world premiere twenty years ago. 

Simpson has commissioned and premiered an impressive list of new works, including Mehmet Sanlikol’s Ergenekon, Howard Frazin’s Voice of Isaac, Bret Silverman’s Tree of Life, William Cutter’s Awake the Dawn, and Megan Henderson’s The Police Log.

Jody Hill Simpson and her husband Rick, an accomplished tenor, live in Hancock, New Hampshire, on Norway Pond, with their standard poodles, Pearl and May and their cat, Goldie.