Who or what inspired you to take up the violin and pursue a career in music?
A joyful introduction to the violin at the age of 4 left me utterly obsessed. It was, and still is, my toy. The career side of things just happened. There was no decision, just a natural process.
Who or what were the most important influences on your musical life and career?
Anyone I’ve ever loved, anyone who’s ever inspired me, anyone who I’ve observed pursuing their dreams without feeling a need to fit in. So much inspiration comes from literature or a chance conversation.
What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?
For sure, working with groups of players who have no interest in selflessly pushing themselves to the highest level possible. It’s hard for me not to be affected when I work (increasingly rarely, luckily!) with those whose sense of their own achievements far outweighs what they are giving to the music.
It’s an unfortunate reality that this is an all too common experience in professional music making, although maybe the same is true in all walks of life.
Which performances/recordings are you most proud of?
None. I just can’t think in this way. Pride and nostalgia. I just play. I experiment in the room, I attempt to do something in that moment that I’ve not done before… and then I move on.
Which particular works do you think you perform best?
Works where sound exploration is key. I feel almost ridiculous saying this – as an obsession with sound should be key – but music that doesn’t fear granular textures and what people often perceive as “noise” is the music that speaks most to me.
Gerald Barry’s music, in all its rampant chaos, is very dear to me… but then so is the meditative and otherworldly breathiness found in Biber’s music.
How do you make your repertoire choices from season to season?
I’m always trying to find new sounds that excite me. And because I have this constant need to learn more and more… the season to season choice never really comes into it. It’s more a month to month! There’s just music there to played. And so much of it intertwines perfectly.
Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in and why?
No. I’ve still not played in “that” space. I’d be surprised if I ever did.
Who are your favourite musicians?
The ones who look for something “other” when they play. The ones who step into the dark.
What is your most memorable concert experience?
An old man from Liverpool telling me after a concert that he never thought he’d hear a lark sing again. He’d heard them every day as a young boy before he moved away from the countryside and into the city.
He didn’t hear them again – he told me – until that day when he heard me play ‘The Lark Ascending’ by Vaughan Williams.
What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?
Look for more. Always. There is nothing of merit about repeating and re-establishing the status quo. Be that in the way we present ourselves on stage, yielding to age old traditions of how one should dress or – more fundamentally – how we interpret music. The lack of freedom and inability to take risks (both from students as well as teachers) always took me aback.
We have a world of sound there to explore. Take advantage of it. Pick up your instrument and play. And play again.
What is your present state of mind?
I’m a bit confused.
Daniel works closely with the acclaimed author Michael Morpurgo, a collaboration that has created The Storyteller’s Ensemble, a group of musicians devoted to the written and spoken word. Putting music to Morpurgo’s wonderful book “The Mozart Question” – and performing it across the UK to great acclaim – has led to work on “The Best Of Times”, a work that will be performed for the first time in Saffron Hall in the winter.
As a teacher of improvisation at Dartington International Summer School from 2011-2013, the nature of free-music and noise exploration has become increasingly important to Daniel, and he has improvised on stage with Ilan Volkov, Yoni Silver, Okkyung Lee and Jonny Greenwood amongst others.
Collaborating with groups such as the London Sinfonietta and the London Contemporary Orchestra (with which he was concertmaster until 2015), has taken Daniel still further into the new-music world and most recently with the effervescent Scottish Ensemble he has added dance to his list of extended techniques.
As well as performing regularly as a soloist – most recently with the Orchestra of St. John’s, the London Philharmonic Orchestra and the LCO – Daniel works with musicians from other walks of life such as psychedelic sound-explorers, Grumbling Fur and Hexvessel. Upcoming performances of particular interest are his interpretations of a new work for solo violin by Edmund Finnis and of Colin Matthews’ Violin Concerto with the BBC Philharmonic.
He has been a member of the collective of musicians that is CHROMA since 2014 and plays on a violin by Christoph Götting.