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As a percussionist, pretty much anything has the potential to be an instrument

Published Friday 5 March 2021

Darren Gallacher, percussion 

When did you start to play percussion? I began drum lessons in first year of high school which then progressed onto percussion lessons, so around 13 years.

Do you play any other instruments? As a percussionist, pretty much anything has the potential to be an instrument. I think the strangest I have encountered in a so piece so far, is a wind up toy chicken on a baking tray…there is never a dull moment when you’re a percussionist!

Where did you studyI completed my undergrad studies at Edinburgh Napier University and my Masters at the Royal Northern College of Music

When did you first play with Sinfonia Cymru?  My first appearance with Sinfonia Cymru was part of Delia Steven’s curate project, AlgoRhythms.

What do you like about working with Sinfonia Cymru? I really appreciate the variety on offer by Sinfonia Cymru. When working with the orchestra, I feel comfortable to be myself and reflect that in my playing. I am also thankful for Sinfonia Cyrmu’s excellent communication with their musicians. During the pandemic, the orchestra have been in contact throughout. Whether it be just to check in, keep us updated or plan online development sessions, it has really really assured us as musicians that we are not forgotten about.

What is your favourite Sinfonia Cymru moment? I really enjoyed AlgoRhythms and being given the freedom by Sinfonia Cymru to explore the potential of the concert. Another memorable moment for me was the James Crabb tour.

What is your favourite musical moment elsewhere? There’s many to choose from, but I think one of the most memorable would be touring China with Le Yu and our percussion sextet. Playing in some amazing concert halls and eating some amazing food in between!

What do you most like about being a professional musician? For me the most enjoyable thing about being a musician is the variety that is out there. I love being involved in all sorts of projects from classical to experimental. Collaboration is also one of the most exciting aspects of being a musician and it opens so many doors.

When you’re not playing with Sinfonia Cymru what other orchestras, ensembles or projects are you involved with? I work on a freelance basis around the country. I have played with the Hallé and the Northern Film Orchestra and before covid I was working with Scottish Opera for a tour of their opera, ‘FoxTot!’. I was also working alongside Composer and Multi instrumentalist Robin Richards for the release of his ‘Castel EP’ and film project ‘The Earth Asleep’. I also enjoy playing as a soloist and working alongside composers to commission new works for percussion and I teach drums and percussion too.

What are your three favourite pieces of music, and why? I like to listen to a wide range of music but if I had to pick some in particular I would choose:

‘Daft Punk – Da Funk’ – I got into daft punk when I was really young because their music videos are always so eccentric, and I have just loved them ever since. I wish I was born just a little earlier so I could have seen them perform live.

‘Steve Reich – Electric Counterpoint III’ – I love all of Steve Reich’s music, a dream of mine is to play ‘Music for 18 musicians’ one day. This movement particularly reminds me of my time spent in Edinburgh, where I was first introduced to 20th century music. I really love minimalist music and art as I feel there are so many ways it can be depicted.

‘Shostakovich Symphony No.8’ – I first encountered this symphony when I was on the Hallé’s PES Scheme during my first year of Masters. The whole symphony is a real journey, and the huge climactic chords within the first and last Movement are some of the loudest orchestral moments I’ve ever encountered and bursting with angst. Then, at the very end the orchestration and dynamics are completely stripped down, leaving a really delicate contrast to pretty much everything that has come before it. It’s a really beautiful moment and I like to think it depicts the light finally showing at the end of a long tunnel.

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