Darryl Way

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Darryl studied violin at Dartington College and the Royal College of Music. He met Francis Monkman in a music store while shopping for violin amplification equipment, and discovered a kindred musical spirit. The two formed Sisyphus with Florian and Rob Martin in 1969, which evolved within a few months into Curved Air.

Other than Sonja, who appeared on all the Curved Air recordings, Darryl was the mainstay of Curved Air. He appeared on all the albums save "Air Cut." Darryl left the band briefly at the end of 1972, citing musical differences and personality clashes.

In 1973 he formed a new band which he named Wolf. The lineup included fusion guitarist John Etheridge, later to join Soft Machine, bassist/vocalist Dek Messecar, later to join Caravan, and drummer extraordinare Ian Mosley, later of Trace and currently of Marillion. The group recorded two albums in this form, "Canis Lupis," produced by King Crimson virtuoso Ian McDonald, and "Saturation Point," both released in 1973. They also recorded three non-album single sides, "Spring Fever," "Five in the Morning," and "A Bunch of Fives," and performed a live concert for the BBC at the Paris Theatre in London. In 1974, vocalist John Hodkinson was added to the group and Wolf recorded what is arguably their best album, "Night Music."

When the original Curved Air were forced to reform in 1974 to discharge an enormous unpaid VAT bill, Darryl performed on the reunion tour and appeared on the subsequent "Live" album. Following the tour, he permanently disbanded Wolf and formed a new version of Curved Air with Sonja. Darryl did not cut all ties with Wolf, though, playing with band-mate Ian Mosley on the 1975 Trace album called "Birds."

Initially, the reformed Curved Air included Phil Kohn who had played bass on the tour, and newcomers Stewart Copeland on drums and Mick Jacques on guitar. Kohn quit prior to recording the next album, "Midnight Wire," and was replaced by well-travelled sessioner John Perry. Perry lasted only for the recording and one concert, being replaced by Tony Reeves from Greenslade. This version of Curved Air recorded two more BBC concerts in 1975 and 1976, plus a new album, "Airborne." Following the recording of "Airborne," Darryl left once again having become disenchanted with the direction of the band. He was replaced very briefly by Alex Richman from the Butts Band before Curved Air once again called it a day.

Darryl then spent some time doing session work, playing violin on Gong's "Expresso," "Expresso 2," "Downwind," and "Time is the Key" albums, the Electric Chairs' "Storm the Gates of Heaven," Jethro Tull's "Heavy Horses," and Marianne Faithfull's "Broken English." In 1978, he wrote and recorded his first classical piece, "The Concerto for Electric Violin," with Francis providing the keyboard orchestration and Ian Mosley the percussion. This album began a pattern of collaboration between Darryl and Francis, as the two would work together on each of Darryl's next two classical projects. The "Concerto" was also performed, sans Francis who had other recording commitments, on the South Bank Show with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

Darryl returned briefly to session work, appearing on Sonja's first solo album in 1980 and on Francis' "Dweller on the Threshold" in 1982. In 1983, Darryl returned to rock, writing a number of new songs. He recorded a 3-song EP of somewhat dance-oriented, synthesized tracks called "As Long As There's A Spark," featuring himself on lead vocals. This was followed by the single "Little Plum," also in the same mold. It was, and is, a very catchy instrumental, which with a bit more airplay could have been a legitimate Top-40 hit. A pair of the songs Darryl wrote during this period were "Renegade" and "We're Only Human," which he felt needed a female vocal. He asked Sonja to record them with him, and they decided to resurrect the Curved Air named for the single. Darryl and Sonja worked on one more piece in the 80's, "O Fortuna," written by classical composer Carl Orff as part of his masterwork "Carmina Burana." Darryl's wonderful arrangement was released as the b-side of Sonja's "Walk on By" 12" single. Oddly, executors of the Orff estate sued to have distribution of the single stopped.

Returning to classical forms, Darryl again joined forced with Francis to produce "The Human Condition." Written and conducted by Darryl, the piece is an emotional eight-part suite featuring Darryl on violin, Francis on piano and classical ensemble Opus 20. Darryl did more sessions following the release of "The Human Condition," including producing "Music without Frontiers," and playing violin on Boris Grebenshikov's "Radio Silence," and on Francis' library album called "Virtual Classics."

In the 1990's, Darryl tried his hand at soundtracks, composing the music for "L.A. Ripper," and a number of other films.

Darryl recruited Stewart Copeland for his next project, "Under the Soft," a collection of gorgeous and very moving instrumentals which received no attention at all in the rock press. In 1994, he helped old friend Ian Mosley once again by helping to arrange Marillion's "Brave" epic. 1995 saw a flurry of activity for Darryl. He formed The Elektra Ensemble with Francis on harpischord and Dietrich Bethge from the English Chambre Orchestra on cello. They played at the Glastonbury Fair that year and recorded "The Elektra Ensemble," a set of Darryl's favorite Concertos by Bach, Vivaldi, Mozart, and Herberson. Also in 1995, Darryl appeared on two rock/classical fusion recordings as conductor, arranger, and producer: "The Long Goodbye -- The Symphonic Music of Procol Harum," and "Fortress -- The Symphonic Music of Sting and the Police."

In 1996, Darryl attempted yet another musical form, writing and producing his first opera, "The Master and Margarita," based on the Mikhail Bulgakov novel. The opera was performed at The Palace theatre in London, and the performances were recorded for later release as a CD. Darryl is currently working towards producing the opera in Russia.

BBC On-Line Article from 2001

For some people there are distinct kinds of music that have to remain firmly in a certain box. But what if you've had a career that has managed to combine several genres? For instance, have classical music and rock and roll always been at loggerheads or can you somehow combine the two? One musician who thinks you can is Devon-based violinist Darryl Way. A former pupil of Dartington College of Arts and London's Royal College of Music, he then went on to find fame as founder member of 1960/70s progressive rockers Curved Air.

But after recently moving back to Devon, he found himself strongly inspired by the stunning and dramatic coastline of where he now calls home. So much so, he was written a new choral symphonic work called Siren's Rock, which received its premiere in the county. "When I moved back the fantastic scenery inspired me to start a work on a piece about the sea. I was fascinated by the myth of the Sirens in Homer's Odyssey, who used their powers of seduction to lure unwitting sailors onto rocks and captivate them."

Some people may be intrigued as to how you get from graduating from the Royal College of Music to the whacky world of rock and roll. However, Way's explanation is very simple. "Well, it was in the 60s", he points out, with the slight hint of 'anything goes'. "I was at the Royal College of Music, there was a lot of bands around, it was a big influence and I think at that particular time everyone wanted to be in a band. I bumped into Francis Monkman, who was at the Royal Academy, a keyboard player, together we formed a band and it turned out to be Curved Air. And we had several years of quite good success."

But even in the wild musical experimentation of the 1960s, there couldn't have been that many people who considered fiddle a rock instrument, surely? Is violin a rock and roll instrument? "No, it's not," he replies. "I was possibly one of their first people to adapt it into the rock idiom, but folk music always used violin, and classical music, obviously. But at the end of the 60s there was really room to experiment, and everybody was thinking abut new ideas. It was a very creative period, the peak of the Beatles' creative powers. They'd introduced string quartets into their music and I think that the barriers were down as to what was rock and what was not. "The fact that there wasn't many other people doing it was always an advantage. It's always a good idea to cut out your competition! But we were experimenting, using the same kinds of gadgets that guitarists were using, anything to basically change and alter the sounds."

But even though wild experimentation of the 60s has passed, Way's ideas for a big project haven't, as he demonstrated with Siren's Way. There was more to the influence than just the sea. "The other inspiration was that I'd just written an opera and got into working with voices. I hadn't written a piece for choir and orchestra, but I'd been listening to quite a bit of that combination and thought it'd be quite a nice idea to write something for that. "It is always a large undertaking because you are talking about using such massive forces - maybe a 30, 40 or 50-piece choir and the same size orchestra, and two soloists as well, which there normally is with choral symphonic work, a soprano solo and a tenor, and also a childrens' choir and also two synthesiers, which is the first time that that's ever been used in this combination. "So it's a big undertaking and I would dare to suggest that this is probably one of the only premiers of symphonic choral work in this country this year, because commissions of this size are very few and far between." He also hoped the project will raise awareness of classical music in the county and region. "I hope it's a profile raiser, the fact that something this size was premiered down here. There is an element in Devon, in the South West that's trying to keep classical music alive, against all odds, unfortunately. It's being kept alive by the good will of the people involved. But it does need to be nurtured and looked after otherwise it will die. And lives will be less enriched because of it."