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Award-winning undergraduate student to perform with the Gloucestershire Symphony Orchestra

11 November 2021

A picture of Darcy resting on her marimba

Darcy Beck, a second year undergraduate student from the School of Music, is set to perform with the Gloucestershire Symphony Orchestra after winning the Gloucestershire Young Musician of the Year Award 2020.

As a result of winning the award for her percussion in March 2020 and after a year’s delay due to the pandemic, Darcy finally has the opportunity to perform her 2020 winner’s concert at the Cheltenham Town Hall on 21 November .

Darcy will perform Emmanuel Séjourné’s Concerto for Marimba and Strings, an advanced piece that requires a five-octave marimba and the use of four mallets throughout.

Speaking about her choice, Darcy said: ‘’I think that this is one of the most exciting pieces written for the marimba. It doesn’t use flashy extended techniques but demonstrates the versatility of the instrument extremely well. It makes use of the whole range of the instrument and includes common features of marimba works such as rolls in both delicate pianissimo and intense fortissimo settings. My favourite aspect of the concerto is that it is incredibly melodic. ‘’

In order to secure this performance and win the award, Darcy had to progress through several rigorous stages starting with submitting two marimba audition pieces (filmed at home as the instrument is very difficult to transport). This was followed by an in-person audition at the Gloucestershire Academy of Music where she was selected as one of five finalists. Here, she performed Battercada, her winning piece, dramatically played in the dark with green light-up sticks.

See Darcy's performance here.

Reflecting on her success, Darcy discussed how the opportunities presented to her at Cardiff University have helped develop her talents and confidence as a musician and prepared her for the upcoming performance:

‘’I think that being a Music student at Cardiff University has significantly improved my confidence as a player. I was the only percussionist in the School of Music in my first year. I had to play confidently and trust my own musical instincts, as I did not have anyone else to rely on. I had the opportunity to play in many jazz ensembles where improvisation was a key aspect. This was initially quite nerve-racking as it wasn’t something I had done much of before. Once I had got over the initial hurdle of improvising in front of the ensembles for the first time I felt happy to give it a go anytime. This has helped with my confidence as a player in general, not just in jazz.’’

Despite starting at the School of Music in the middle of the pandemic, Darcy showed both dedication to her instrumental studies and a keen desire to make the most of the varied opportunities available to students. She integrated quickly into numerous School ensembles and it is wonderful to see her talent and dedication rewarded with this opportunity to perform a solo concerto with a professional orchestra.

Dr Keith Chapin Senior Lecturer

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