June 28, 2019Print | PDF
Darren Creech (BMus ’12) has made a niche for himself by placing his identity as a queer classical pianist front and centre in his performances. He’s also breaking the silence, both literally and figuratively, by placing personal narrative, poetry and wardrobe changes between songs.
“A lot of it has come out of a desire to make a concert experience more immersive and emotional for the audience,” he says.
Where other classical pianists seek to conform, Creech strives to differentiate, highlighting himself as well as his playing ability. He hasn’t always been confident about his decision to inject himself so discernibly into his work, though.
“Because there weren’t really other people to look towards within the classical world who were doing similar work, there was some trepidation about centring identity,” he says. “I think the fear is that if you niche too much you’ll limit your opportunities, but actually the exact opposite happened. It was a great way to do something that I was passionate about and a good way of spreading the word about me as a pianist and the work that I do.”
The turning point for Creech came when he moved to Toronto a few years ago and got a gig playing at a queer arts festival in Toronto called Nuit Rose.
“When they named me best artist at the festival, that gave me enough of a push to really centre identity in my entire career,” he says. “I’ve had a lot of really exciting performing opportunities with festivals and artists that I love and respect. They are all opportunities that wouldn’t happen without that kind of work and that kind of experimenting with my career.”
Between musical works, Creech tells a narrative through pre-recorded poetry, which facilitates wardrobe changes, or by speaking directly to the audience about his own stories and those of others.
“There’s a fearlessness in terms of what I wear on stage,” he says. “Glitter, crop tops, heels, designer gowns – I’m not in drag, but rather looking at alternate presentations for the way that a classical pianist can look.”
Creech lived in Senegal, West Africa, during his high school years, when he was forming a base for his piano studies. From there, he moved straight to Waterloo to study at Laurier.
“Coming from a different background, I was looking for a school that could offer a tailored approach,” says Creech. “Laurier fit the bill. Laurier is a great place to try out new ideas, discover who you are and get good feedback on the work that you are creating. I found it to be a supportive environment and I learned so much while I was there.”
We see you are accessing our website on IE8. We recommend you view in Chrome, Safari, Firefox or IE9+ instead.×