PH: I’m sure you have had other offers since leaving Cory? Why Flowers?
DC: When I left Cory in May 2012 I wasn’t looking to join another band; I was ready for a rest and wanted more time for my career and my family. During the last 18 months I’ve continued to take a keen interest in bands and when asked I’ve always been happy to help out, whether its been Woodfalls, Black Dyke, Flowers or Desford. Why Flowers? They have a relatively light schedule, they’re fairly local for me, they’re realistic about the level of commitment I’m able to give, and most importantly they had a vacancy!
PH: Do you have a view on the band? It’s sounding pretty well at the moment?
DC: Having played with them earlier in the year I know they’re a great bunch of people, they have a hardworking conductor in Paul Holland. I think they’re a good band.
PH: Can you amplify how and why you have missed the routine of band practise?
DC: I wouldn’t say I’ve missed the ‘routine’ of band, but I have missed band (ensemble) playing in general whether it be a rehearsal, concert, contest or recording. A great deal of concentrated personal practice is required to retain and develop the skills ensemble playing enhances without much thought at all. I don’t mind putting the hours in, but generally given the option I’d rather be staying ‘match fit’ making music with others than in a practice room on my own.
PH: Given your diary etc, will this be full time, or just ‘as and when’ for big events, as some other high profile musicians do?
DC: I’ll be joining Flowers as their principal euphonium and like every other member of the band I’ll do my best to be there as often as I can. With the career I have there will naturally be occasions when I’m unavailable, but this was an important point of discussion with the band management before I agreed to join and we have a mutual understanding on the matter. It is certainly not my intention to just come in as and when for big events. I’m not joining the band for exposure or opportunity; I’m joining because I miss playing with a band!
PH: It would be good to know how this is going to fit in. I’ll mention the Festival of Brass and I’d also like to look a bit wider at your highlights for the past year and what you are particularly looking forward to next year. Any major recording or commissioning projects you can talk about?
DC: Having seen Flowers’ schedule for 2014 I’m confident everything will ‘fit in’. With the greatest respect to my new band we don’t have as busy a schedule as the likes of Black Dyke, Grimethorpe, Fodens, Brighouse or Cory, which is what makes this a viable option for me. In January, as well as playing my first engagement with Flowers at Butlins, I’ll also have time to record a Euphonium Concerto CD with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales under Bramwell Tovey, make a guest soloist appearance at the Bridgewater Hall with Fodens under Howard Snell, and visit Holland to perform with wind orchestra.
During the last couple of months I’ve given recitals in USA, Japan, Switzerland, and Cardiff & Tredegar! Last week I was guest soloist with Willebroek and Midden Brabant in Belgium together with my Besson colleague Roger Webster. Next week I’m premiering a new work for solo euphonium, narrator & Symphony Orchestra entitled ‘Joan of Arc’ composed by Alan Edgar. In a couple of weeks my Dad and I are playing duets together in Norway. The Symphony Orchestra recording mentioned above is for Chandos records and will feature the Horovitz, Wilby, Hoddinott & Jenkins’ euphonium concertos. Next year I’m particularly looking forward to playing as guest soloist with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall and playing the Jenkins Concerto with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales in St David’s Hall. Future tour dates include USA, Canada, Japan, Italy, Austria. Edward Gregson is currently working on a new Concerto for Euphonium & Orchestra which I’m looking forward to premiering in 2015.
PH: You also teach at RWCMD - have you any comments to make about the success of Welsh bands at all levels this year? To what extent do you think the example of Cory and what your Dad achieved there, and continues to do with others at the College has been a motivating force?
DC: When my father took over at Cory in 2000 they were ranked 13th in the world and had a similar concert schedule to Flowers. The RWCMD ‘Brass Band Pathway’ didn’t exist, and I don’t remember how Tredegar, Tongwynlais and other Welsh bands were doing at that time. Under his direction Cory’s transformation over the decade that followed was unprecedented. Within a relatively short space of time, and on the back of major contest successes; prestige concerts, tours and recording projects came the band’s way as they rose to the top of the world rankings. Today they remain at the top and continue to enjoy and enhance a reputation for delivering a remarkable level of performance year in year out. In my opinion there is no question Cory’s example has been a motivating factor for other Welsh bands, but the RWCMD and conservatoire trained brass band musicians in general have also played a significant part in elevating the status of Welsh banding.
When I left Cory the other three members of my section were students of mine from the college; the horn section invariably featured Owen Farr’s students, in fact we had valued students in every section, and the band benefitted greatly from their involvement. When you look at Cory today, six of their eight soloists are classically trained music graduates and many more are current or former music students. Not only would I attribute much of the success Welsh bands are enjoying at the moment to former and current music students, I believe they are our movements’ future, and their involvement should be embraced and valued.
PH: You have also been conducting Cardiff Symphonic Winds - how has that been? What’s coming up? Do you see yourself doing more conducting in the future - of wind and/or brass bands?
DC: Cardiff Symphonic Winds is a project based band meaning we only meet if we have a particular project to work on. Next week we’re recording a short set for Rondo Media so this week we met for a rehearsal. It’s something different for me and fun for its members. As you know playing is my priority at the moment and I want to continue for as long as I’m able. However, conducting is something I also enjoy so I’m happy to gain experience and learn as much as I can in preparation should it be a path I choose to go down with more purpose in the future.