“It was frustrating as a queer artist to not see myself represented in the classical music industry,” Creech, 27, said in a recent interview with National Sawdust Log.
Carving a niche as the only queer classical pianist to fiercely highlight his identity on stage, Creech has an entrepreneurial savvy that has landed him university keynote concerts, coveted festival performances and awards, and a fateful slide into his DMs by none other than esteemed piano maker Steinway.
Identifying himself as the ‘queer pianist’ in his bio and on social media, Creech has carved a niche in the music world with performances that combine queer theatre, captivating costumes and glittery hair.
His concert at Laurier did not disappoint. It featured a narrative propelled by spoken word, lighting design and five different costume changes combined with challenging 20th and 21st century piano repertoire. The day before the concert, Creech delivered a masterclass to Laurier piano students.
RESILIENCE is, technically, a solo piano recital—but it’s also far more than that. Drawing on his multidisciplinary practice, Creech incorporates costumes, glitter, narration, lighting and stage design into his performance, with the aim of introducing elements of queerness and theatricality to the classical stage.
For Creech, the crux of the show lies in how it challenges audiences’ assumptions about what classical music stands for, and opens the door for performers and audiences who otherwise might not see themselves represented onstage.
When a Toronto-based LGBTQ orchestra approached queer classical pianist Darren Creech about performing Victor Davies’ 'Mennonite Piano Concerto' with it in concert, it didn’t realize what a perfect fit he would be.
Unbeknownst to the Counterpoint Community Orchestra at the time, Creech is Mennonite and he grew up listening to the piece. Victor Davies says, "He’s a terrific young guy . . . and he’s a wonderful pianist. We’re very delighted that he’s playing it.'"
For his keynote performance, Creech will give a narrative solo recital combining recorded program notes, lighting, stage design and "subversive fashion."
"My approach not only gives me more to say as an artist, but it helps the audience connect to the music and the story I'm telling in a way that is rare to find in solo piano recitals," he says. Look forward to tightly timed costume changes and audio-visual effects that recontextualize the repertoire.
Darren actively challenges stodgy conventions of classical music performance, compelling audiences to think outside the box. These performances are tour-de-forces, propelled by a powerful narrative which puts audiences in touch with their emotional and spiritual cores.
For Darren, reimagining the way classical music is presented is about building a deeper connection with his audiences. He combines storytelling, fashion and staging to lead the audience on an emotional journey.
Creech's Nuit Rose concert shows his belief in a new potential for the classical concert stage. "The established concert format has unwritten prescribed rules as to what is acceptable to wear and do onstage," he observes. "I see it as a rather conservative approach, and would like to see greater diversity and meaning in how we communicate with the audience based on how we present onstage."
The Throbbing Rose Collective is very proud to announce the winner of the 2016 Nuit Rose Best Artist Prize, Darren Creech. Darren participated in Nuit Rose with a stunning piano recital, titled Resilience and played on a Steinway grand piano in studio 106 of the 519 Church St. Community Centre. The exciting performance was both unexpected and unforgettable to those who had the opportunity to witness it.
The pianist is Darren Creech, in his graduation recital at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo last May. The piece is Seven River-Views — I. The Vistula at Night: Reflections; II. The White Fog and a Red Sun; III. A Dragonfly’s Serenade to the Moon; IV. Amongst Rocks; V. Game of Light and Shadow on the Water Surface; VI. Bright Waves; VII. After the Rainfall — so old-fashionedly programmatic, yet sounding remarkably fresh and enticing.