San Simon Project
'San Simon' is a sophisticated emotional journey through medieval times painted in 'new age' colors. Timeless human emotions contained in ancient Galaico/Portuguese troubador poetry is brought into the 21st century in the hands of international prize winning composer duo Pikoul Sisters.
This album is the result of a collaboration with operatic duo Cecilia Fontes (soprano) and Manuel Bras da Costa (counter-tenor), both of whom have solo careers in the world of classical music. 'San Simon' is a magical fusion of ancient and modern, using acoustic instruments colored by electronic timbres and pop/rock/ethnic influences. The project could be said to belong to the same broad genre as Enigma, Enya, Sarah Brightman and Il Divo.
Pikoul Sisters (Natalia and Marina) - composers, key-board players and backing vocalists.
Cecília Fontes - soprano.
Manuel Brás da Costa - counter-tenor.
With the Lyra String Quartet.
Produced by Christian Schonberger, Pikoul Sisters and Richard Tomes.
Many of the songs from this album have been awarded prizes in various international songwriting competitions:
'Love is Out There' won the Grand Prize in the 2006 John Lennon Songwriting contest,and the fourth prize in the 11th Unisong International Contest in the 'World' category.
'San Simon' was nominated for the Los Angeles Music Awards in 2007. 'The round' won the Second Prize in the Midwest Song Contest ('World' category) in 2007 and is the winner of the 'Latin' category" of the West Coast Songwriters International Song Contest 2008. 'Surrendering to love' is one of the winners of John Lennon Songwriting Contest in 2007 ('World' category) and a Runner Up in the UK Sonfwriting Contest 2008. 'Sweet dreamer Solveig' received an Honorable mention in the 11th Cooch Music Amateur Songwriting Contest.'Fatal Spell'is the winner of the Best Performance category of the "100% music" Contest in 2008.
"I must tell you how much I truly enjoyed your vibrant song. Although I don't speak Portuguese, it didn't stop me feeling the spiritual power of this for one second. Your harmonic blend is haunting, almost like one voice, even though it's two. In fact, as a veteran 25 year songwriter myself in addition to overseeing "Unisong" as one part of my own career wheel, the highest compliment I can pay you is to say I wish I'd written it myself." - Alan Roy Scott, co-founder of the "Unisong" International Song Contest.
"The Pikoul Sisters captured me with their mystical musical creations. Their songs are transporting and exciting!" - Penny Towers Wilber, songwriter.
"A tantalizing blend of world, classical, and new age." - Kathy Raimey, songwriter.
Twin sisters and co-authors Marina and Natalia Pikoul graduated as composers from the renowned Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory and went on to study at the Paris Conservatoire. They were international prize-winners as classical artists before they started to experiment in the ‘crossover’ genre. Many of their chamber and orchestral compositions have been performed in Russia, Japan, Great Britain, and France, and others have been published in Russia. In Moscow they were the winners of the 1989 Contemporary Music Competition, and their winning composition ‘Angel’ for baritone and piano was adopted as the obligatory contemporary work in the IX International Tchaikovsky Vocal Competition, 1990. In 2000 Natalia’s classical score for Christopher Hampton’s play ‘Les Liaisons Dangereuses’ was used for a national tour of the UK. Also in 2000 Marina's 'Romance Sonámbulo' for baritone and chamber ensemble was performed at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield and at the International Festival of Contemporary Music in Aveiro, Portugal. The sisters recently completed a fantasy operetta ‘Margarita and Him’ after the modern novel ‘The Master and Margarita’ by Mikhail Bulgakov.
From Porto, Portugal, Cecília won a European Community scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music, London, where she studied and lived for eight years. She has performed with diverse orchestras and conductors in Britain, the USA, Ukraine, and Portugal. She has recorded for the BBC World Service, RTP (National Portuguese television), and recently gave a recital at the prestigious Chicago Cultural Centre USA, which was broadcast to the entire country. She is a member of English music/dramatic trio ‘Cavatina’. With husband and pianist José María Parra she performs regularly in Europe and the USA.
MANUEL BRÁS DA COSTA
After his studies at the Lisbon Superior School of Music, Manuel obtained a scholarship to attend the Royal College of Music London, where he completed a post graduate degree in performance and concert singing. During this time he was a prize-winner at several competitions, including the Graziella Schiutti Prize, the Early Music Competition, and the Keith Falkner Prize. Manuel has performed in Portugal, England, Africa, India and Macau. He sings regularly at ancient musical festivals in Macau, Coimbra, Algarve, Mafra, Guarda, Lamego, Ovar, Chaves, S.Roque, and the Gulbenkian Ancient Music Festival. He is a permanent member of the early music consorts 'Birundum' and 'Os Segréis' de Lisboa.