Meet Our Music Director, Matt Sims
Matt Sims was born in Bristol, England. A fifth-generation Salvationist, his grandparents were Salvation Army officers. His parents, Jan and Dean, are members of the Bristol Easton Corps along with his sister, Vicky, and her husband, Kevin. Several other members of his family are active Salvationists in England.
At the age of 2, he was introduced to the cornet by his father, who was the Bandmaster of the Pill Corps at the time. As a teenager, he played in the senior band at Bristol Horfield Corps and later at Bristol Easton, under the direction of Bandmaster Don Jenkins. In 1996, he joined the West of England Symphonic Wind Band and toured Spain with that group. In the summer of that year he was accepted into the National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain, becoming principal bass trombone of that band in 1998. During his time with the NYBBGB, he was privileged to play under the direction of fine conductors such as Roy Newsome, David King and Robert Childs.
Matt graduated from St. Katherine's Comprehensive school in 1998 with qualifications in Music, English, Theatre Studies and Geography. He entered one of London's finest music conservatories, Trinity College of Music, graduating with full honors in 2002 with a performance degree in Bass Trombone and Conducting and qualifications in Music Therapy. During his time at college he became the bass trombonist with the British Youth Orchestra at Covent Garden and played with several orchestras in the BBC Proms concerts.
During Christmas 2001, Matt began teaching at Charles Edward Brookes Performing Arts College. After moving back to Bristol, he accepted the position of trombone teacher in residence at Clifton College, and in 2003 was teaching at all of the private colleges in Bristol, including Colsten Collegiate, Bristol Grammar, Queen Elizabeth and Downs School, where he was a musical therapist to autistic children.
In 2005, Matt became principal bass trombonist for the Bath Philharmonia, Bristol Philharmonic and Bath Operatic Society orchestras, and later became Trombone Professor at Bath University. He was the principal conductor of the Shepton Mallet wind band and prepared brass bands for competitions in the Bristol area. He also was a guest conductor in Europe, performing in Sweden, Norway and Spain. With brass bands, he has toured most of Europe, North America, South Korea and Japan. Matt has been lucky to play with several well-known British brass bands, including First City Brass, Yorkshire Imperial and the GUS Band.
Matt's involvement with Salvation Army music in the United States began in 1998 when he was a music instructor in Oklahoma for the summer. He has also worked in Kentucky and at Camp Walter Johnson in North Carolina, where he had a wonderful relationship with the staff and campers from 2000 - 2006. He has also been a trombone instructor at the USA Southern Territorial Music Institute for several years, and formed the TMI Jazz Band in 2006.
In January 2007, Matt decided to become more involved in music ministry and moved to Richmond, Virginia, where he became the area music director for The Salvation Army Central Virginia Area Command, founding the School of Performing Arts which serves children of all ages in Central Virginia, offering free or low-cost lessons and musical instruction.
He has been an active trombonist as a member of the Richmond Pops Orchestra, The Herb Stone Big Band, the Virginia Commonwealth University Trombone Choir and the Central Virginia Jazz Orchestra. Upon his arrival in Richmond, Matt joined the National Capital Band on bass trombone. He served as Band Secretary for two seasons, and was named Deputy Bandmaster at the beginning of the 2009 - 2010 season, and still serves in that role today. He is also a principal member of the instruction team for the National Capital and Virginia Divisional Youth Band.
His work with the children in Richmond is extensive, and he has a huge desire to give the children of Richmond the gift of music and arts. He hopes that many lives in Richmond will be mended and comforted by music, but also wants those who do not know the Lord to come to Him.