Daniel has the key to success

PUBLISHED: 11:47 06 July 2006 | UPDATED: 10:23 06 May 2010

Daniel Basford

Daniel Basford

HE might only have graduated from music college last year but already Daniel Basford is scaling the heights of the composing world. Talented Daniel, 22, from Kings Hedges, Hitchin, has had his work performed by the National Youth Wind Orchestra of Great B

HE might only have graduated from music college last year but already Daniel Basford is scaling the heights of the composing world.

Talented Daniel, 22, from Kings Hedges, Hitchin, has had his work performed by the National Youth Wind Orchestra of Great Britain and, just last weekend, the London Symphony Orchestra premiered a specially-written piece at the Barbican.

Daniel's flourishing music career began at the tender age of seven when he began learning the cello and the piano.

Since then he has never looked back, getting to Grade 8 at both instruments plus the bassoon, and becoming an accomplished, self-taught percussionist.

After attending Hitchin Boys' School, he went on to study at the Royal Northern College of Music, where he specialised in composition, gaining a first in his degree.

He was also awarded the Professional Composition Diploma in his final year.

Despite his obvious natural ability it remains a bit of a mystery where he got his musical prowess from.

"There's no one on either side of the family who has been a professional classical musician so we're all sort of puzzled where it's come from," he said.

Since leaving college, Daniel has combined working as a composer with a variety of playing jobs including accompaniment and performing with the Philharmonic at the University of Hertfordshire.

The piece performed last weekend by the London Symphony Orchestra, entitled Shift, was part of an ongoing scheme run for young composers, and Daniel admits he was initially nervous about writing for such a major orchestra.

He said: "It was really scary and exhilarating at the same time. I found the process a bit daunting at first because I'd just left college only last year and I didn't expect something as big as that to come up the year after I left."

Nevertheless, Daniel said he was "really happy" with the performance.

And although he cannot choose a favourite from his work, he admits Shift does have a special place in his heart.

"That was my most recent orchestral composition. I just like that, in five minutes, it gives a very good idea of where I'm coming from as a composer," he said.

Where he is "coming from" is a fusion of his major influences - jazz, funk and Latin American music.

"I'd like to think my music is quite approachable and it tends to have a lot of driving energy. At the same time I do write in different styles depending on the ensembles," he said.

Daniel is currently working on a piece for Britten Sinfonia which will be performed on Radio 3 in December.

He said: "It's going well. I've planned what I'm going to do. It's going to be about nine or 10 minutes, a single movement work for seven players."

For Daniel, compositions for groups as large as a symphony orchestra can begin with a small chord or a series of notes.

"It might just be one tiny idea and I make a mental note of that and think 'how can I use it as the basis of a larger work?'" he said.

"If I've got a pen handy I will write them down but sometimes they do get forgotten. They often come at the most odd moment, if I'm just waiting for a bus or on a train."

As well as working on the Britten Sinfonia piece, Daniel will don his percussion hat to take part in a very special performance in London next month.

Hertfordshire County Youth Wind Orchestra, which Daniel still plays with occasionally, will perform a piece he has written specially for them, Songs and Refrains, an arrangement of folk songs.

He said: "I think it's a lot less stressful on the part of the composer because I know the group and I sort of know all their strengths so I've written the piece to capitalise on that.

"I'm really looking forward to it."

* Hertfordshire County Youth Wind Orchestra will perform Songs and Refrains, along with works by Holst, Bliss and Janacek at St John's, Smith Square on Saturday, August 5, 7.30pm. Tickets are available from the box office on 020 7222 1061.


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