Mark Darvill Evans, composer

Who or what inspired you to take up composing, and pursue a career in music?

Music has always been very important, but I think the moment that changed from listening to composing was the realisation that all creative pursuits have an underlying language, unlocking that is a challenge, but ultimately you are just trying to capture or make a connection make with sound.

Who or what were the most significant influences on your musical life and career as a composer?

My wife and the composer Robert Szymanek both encouraged me, but in terms of influences, and there is a difference between ideas and influence, Beethoven, Pärt and Glass.

What have been the greatest challenges/frustrations of your career so far?

It is worrying that the whole industry is going the way of modern mass-produced popular music, where experimentation and variety are being replaced with a narrowing range of expression. There is clearly room for both, but in an era of computer algorithms it makes mainstream listening very constricted.

What are the special challenges/pleasures of working on a commissioned piece?

It is worrying enough to produce music and exposure it to the world – having, or hoping, to please a particular person is terrifying!

What are the special challenges/pleasures of working with particular musicians, singers, ensembles and orchestras?

It is a particular pleasure to work with Siwan Rhys. Although our meeting was as accidental as you can get, she interprets and expresses the music in a way that brings a whole new level to it.

Of which works are you most proud?

All those that make recording are ones to be proud of. The discarded ones – and are there many – always have something, so there is a lingering feeling that there is good in them, but ultimately not enough.

How would you characterise your compositional language?

My music has been called ‘romantic minimalism’, and it might not be 100%, but it is close.

How do you work?

I try to create a feeling, but the writing itself takes all sorts of forms from a scribble to working on a computer, and can happen at any time. Sometimes a piece is just right from the start, others take many many rewrites and changes until I feel every single note does what it should in its own space and holds the piece together.

Who are your favourite musicians/composers?

Oddly, the musicians I most enjoy listening to are not the same as those that inspire me. I take ideas from anywhere (including Jimi Hendrix) but at home Beethoven or George Harrison.

What is your most memorable concert experience?

As a member of the audience, Kancheli at the Barbican a decade ago – spellbinding, and it demonstrated how music as a form can be about the experience.

What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?

Be your own harshest critic and keep throwing things away. If they really are any good the ideas will come back.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Running a marathon in under 3 hours (it won’t happen!).


Mark Darvill-Evans’ album ‘Seeds of Time’ with Siwan Rhys piano is available on the Prima Facie label. Further information here

Mark Darvill-Evans draws on a wide range of musical influences and following study at Cardiff University developed a unique musical style that combines and builds on these foundations with ideas from other creative pursuits. His music has been used in advertising and won support from personalities as diverse as Piers Lane and Nick Mason of Pink Floyd. Mark grew up in a musical family where his father was a church organist and his siblings musical tastes veered toward more contemporary sounds. Mark has previously collaborated with composer Robert Szymanek and is married to former concert pianist Jane.

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