Like many before him, it was matters of the heart that led Darrell Ang to develop a passion for classical music and to bloom into the musical auteur he is today. Darrell was taught piano from a young age, but he wasn’t enjoying it. Then, as fate and cupid would have it, at 12 he developed a crush on a girl whose brother played the drums.
So Darrell joined the school band to learn the drums and he used it as an excuse to practice at the girl’s house, using her brother’s drums. He then learned to play the trumpet and the bassoon as the band needed additional players. And so, as time passed by, what started as romantic love soon blossomed into a love for classical music.
But destiny had even more cards to play. On the night of his 14th birthday, Darrell had a dream in which a voice spoke to him and said that he must became a conductor. He really didn’t have any idea what a conductor was at the time, so he set about finding out. And that curiosity, born from love and from a dream, led him to success and fame as one of the youngest conductors in Asia and the winner of three major international conducting awards.
Of course, there’s more to the story than that. The curiosity aroused in him by his dream took Darrell to St Petersburg, where he studied at the Ilia Musin International Academy of Advanced Conducting. Here, found himself immersed in striking Russian music as well as a French and contemporary Asian repertoire. Darrell then continued his studies at Yale and studied under legendary mentors, namely the American conductor/composer Lorin Maazel, and Finnish conductor/composer Esa-Pekka Salonen.
Darrell admits that working in the orchestral industry—if, indeed, it can be termed an industry—is not as easy as it might seem, especially given that the trend in all things, including classical music, is about quick-selling packages and immediate revenue. Of course, as a young Asian man who jumped into an industry dominated by Caucasians, he faced other obstacles, too.
But being an ambitious and hardworking young man, Darrel took it all in his stride, not only overcoming obstacles, but establishing himself as a major player in the classical music scene. He says that his dream is to be as successful as his idols: the Austrian conductor Herbert von Karajan and the German conductor Carlos Kleiber. “For me, success is when I am able to be the conductor that I want to be—not in terms of career success, but rather their artistic abilities,” says Darrell.
Read more about Darrell Ang in our June 2016 issue.