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Simon Thompson started conducting in 1977 as a result of a bet with a friend at Cambridge University. Having been annoyingly critical (as an orchestral cellist) of other student conductors, he was goaded into auditioning for the student conductorship of the University Second Orchestra. In this he was surprisingly successful, despite the lack of any formal training. To patch up the gaps, he then took conducting lessons from Michael Lankester, Michael Rose, and George Hurst.

Since that time, Simon has conducted a large number of different orchestras, including the Oxford University Chamber Orchestra, the Oxford Sinfonia and the Essex Chamber Orchestra, covering a wide range of repertoire from the baroque to the present day. While living in London, he formed the semi-professional Lydian Chamber Orchestra, which gave concerts regularly for several years in the 1980s. From 1987 to 1998, Simon worked with the Colchester-based Essex Baroque Choir and was the co-director, with Peter Holman, of the Suffolk Villages Baroque Music Festival. In 1988 he was invited to take over the conducting and organization of Amadeus Chamber Orchestra.

Outside these conducting activities Simon is an active cellist and a member of the Castellani String Quartet and other chamber groups.

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