I love my music, and becoming a dad was a life-changer

Person to Person: Alex Petcu is a singer, musician, and teacher based in Cork who plays with Crash Ensemble, who are currently marking their 25th anniversary with a series of performances
I love my music, and becoming a dad was a life-changer

Alex Petcu is a musician and teacher

TELL us about yourself:

My name is Alex Petcu. I’m a musician and teacher based in Cork. I play percussion instruments of all sorts and I’m passionate about showing off to the world what percussion has to offer.

I play on a freelance basis with a variety of groups in Ireland such as Crash Ensemble, various orchestras including the RTÉ Orchestras, Cork Opera House Concert Orchestra and more.

I also run my own percussion ensemble called the ‘Bangers and Crash Percussion Group’, do solo projects, and teach at the MTU Cork School of Music.

I also recently became a father to a gorgeous girl, Ella, which has definitely been a life-changer.

Where were you born?

Cork.

Where do you live?

Cork city!. I lived for four years in Dublin but came back a few years ago. Plan to stay put.

Family?

My parents were born in Romania and arrived here in the late 1970s. I have one older sister. I also have a wife, a little girl and two nieces.

Best friend?

I have friends from various parts of my life including from college, colleagues in the music business and so on, however, some of my best friends are those I went to school with.

Earliest childhood memory?

Seeing the bars of the cot around me (I think). I also remember getting stung by a bee, making a sandwich with a half inch thick slab of butter (because I loved butter and thought it would be a good idea for it to be thick!)

Where was your most memorable holiday?

One of the following:

- Interrailing around Europe,

- a trip to Vietnam and Thailand

- our honeymoon to Mauritius

- our most recent holiday to Portugal. First time travelling with out daughter after three years of going nowhere!

Favourite radio show?

No particular shows, but enjoy listening to Lyric FM while driving around the country to various gigs

Your signature dish if cooking?

Can’t say I have a signature dish, but I do enjoy cooking and watching my family enjoy the food I make.

I have a particular oven-baked salmon and peppers dish that goes down well. At the moment, I’m thinking of making a quintessential Romanian dish in the next few days called ‘ardei umpluti’ (or stuffed peppers).

Favourite restaurant?

Many places! I really like Elbow Lane and Sakura in Cork. In Dublin, I love Parnell Street for great Asian food. Lots of great food places in Vietnam of course!

Last book you read?

Has been a long time since I’ve had time to read a full book, with a toddler in the house!

Best book you read?

Probably The Lord Of The Rings. The most memorable thing for me was being so sucked in by those books.

Do you have a pet?

Yes, two yorkies. Sammy and Sid

Morning person or night owl?

I’ve no idea anymore really. At the moment, I’m a morning person for sure, but I’m not sure it’s by choice. My toddler decides this aspect of my life.

Spendthrift or saver?

Saver, I reckon is my instinct, although I am certainly not afraid to spend money on percussion instruments. When you look at my collection of stuff, you would think that it’s enough, but there’s always some new instrument to get!

Name one thing you would improve in your area in which you live?

More green space in Cork, more loading bays next to venues!

What makes you happy?

Lots of things, but in particular:

- Watching my toddler do something new (I reckon that goes for most new parents)

- Playing music of a certain baseline of difficulty, which means that your brain is forced into the present moment and there’s not a hope you can play while thinking of something else. Resulting in a type of meditation really.

What else are you up to at the moment?

In general, I spend a lot of time taking care of my daughter, organising myself for various concerts and events and teaching. A few things I’m working on at the moment:

- I’m practicing for a marathon of concerts as part of Crash Ensemble’s 25th anniversary events at the end of the month.

- Trying to devise new projects with my on percussion collective, the Bangers and Crash Percussion Group

- Working on a new epic piece by Barry O’Halpin for guitar and percussion, based on the physical, acoustic and mythological aspects of caves.

The Crash Ensemble 25th year anniversary programme culminates with two special concerts and a cutting-edge installation at the National Concert Hall (NCH).

The first celebratory concert, Crash 25! Charged Disruption, on Saturday, December 3 sees the acclaimed ensemble, with conductor Ryan McAdams, perform Donnacha Dennehy’s magnetic, soulful and influential work Grá agas Bás with vocalist Iarla Ó Lionáird. In the second part of the concert Artist in Residence Diamanda La Berge Dramm and writer Neva Elliot present Crashed, drawing on the unique energy of the players of the group, through the use of their voices and instruments.

For the second birthday concert, Crash 25! Living Perspectives, on Sunday, December 4, the ensemble’s programme comprises Australian composer Liza Lim’s Extinction Events and Dawn Chorus and Barry O’Halpin’s experimental work Wingform.

Tickets for these are €18, available from nch.ie

The previous week, from Thursday, November 24, to Sunday, November 27, The Studio space in the National Concert Hall hosts Crash 25! Wingform Installation, 10am to 8pm, the work of video artist and filmmaker Jack Phelan, who created a work responding to the visual themes of Irish composer, Barry O’Halpin’s Wingform.

Free entry (Minimal strobe lighting in some visuals on display).

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