David Darling

“Maverick cellist” is the phrase most often assigned to Grammy-nominated artist David Darling (1941–2021), but it hardly captures the richness, diversity, breadth, and sense of humor of a man who literally redefined the way the cello is played and the way music is taught. His prolific collection of recordings and innovative performance style represent an eclectic variety of musical genres. His playful and unconventional teaching methods helped open the world of music and improvisation to thousands of individuals.

Darling began piano lessons at the age of 5 and the study of classical cello at age 10. He attended Indiana State University, earning his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music education. He studied cello with internationally recognized artists/teachers Lorne Munroe, Gilbert Reese, Fritz Magg, and János Starker, while at the same time pursuing studies in music composition. He was a scholarship student with the Pierre Monteux School for Conductors, and he studied jazz performance at Berklee School of Music in Boston.

In summer 1970, Darling joined the Grammy Award–winning group the Paul Winter Consort. He made his home in Nashville, Tennessee, where he served as assistant principal cellist with the Nashville Symphony Orchestra and worked as a studio session player in the Nashville recording scene. But his main focus was the Consort, an extraordinarily progressive band. He retired from the Paul Winter Consort in 1987 and began to explore the new experiences of working as a solo performer, teaching, and making recordings.

Throughout the years, Darling collaborated with a wide variety of international artists including Paul Winter, Ralph Towner, Glen Moore, Collin Walcott, Paul McCandless, Jan Garbarek, Arild Andersen, Paul Horn, Steve Kuhn, Terje Rypdal, Jon Christensen, Ketil Bjørnstad, Pierre Favre, Glen Velez, Bobby McFerrin, Spyro Gyra, Allaudin Mathieu, Peter Kater and R. Carlos Nakai, Patrick Leonard, Joseph FireCrow, Arlo Guthrie, John Marshall, and Baba Olatunji. Darling’s self-produced CD, Cello Blue (2001), earned rave reviews as well as a 2002 Grammy nomination and the AFIM Indie Award from the Association for Independent Music.

In 1986, Darling cofounded Music for People, an internationally recognized nonprofit educational network dedicated to teaching and fostering music improvisation as a means of creative self-expression. Music for People’s training and certification program, now in its 35th year, continues to flourish in the United States and has expanded to offer seminars and workshops at the Center for Wellbeing and Creativity in Kiental, Switzerland. Darling traveled extensively for more than 40 years, enthusiastically encouraging all humans to explore their musical talents and creative abilities. He inspired and encouraged thousands at numerous holistic facilities and retreat centers such as Esalen, the New York Open Center, Hollyhock, and Omega Institute.

Starting in 1986, Darling worked for Young Audiences, a National Medal of the Arts award-winning organization dedicated to enriching children’s lives by providing in-school programs in the form of workshops, artist residencies, and guest performances. In 1995, he received the Artist of the Year Award by the Board of Directors of Young Audiences, given “in recognition of his hard work, innovation, and creativity in the service of arts-in-education.” In 2001, Darling received the Arts Advocate of the Year Award presented by the Connecticut Music Educators Association for “his excellent work in music education and improvisation.”

Author photo © David Darling

Also By Author

The Cello and David Darling in Love

David Darling, a Grammy®-winning cellist and maverick musician who redefines the way the cello is played and the way music is taught, speaks with Tami Simon about his unique perspective on music. With Sounds True, David has released a new record called In Love and Longing with vocalist Sylvia Nakkach, as well as Just Being Here, a collaboration with Coleman Barks featuring David’s music and the poetry of Rumi. In this episode, David and Tami discuss the cello as an instrument of melancholy, what it takes to be a good collaborator, and the art of good listening. (72 minutes)

See David Darling live in August 2014. Visit WakeUpFestival.com for more information.

You Might Also Enjoy

Masculine Depth and Power—from the Core

John Wineland is an LA-based men’s group facilitator, speaker, and teacher who has been guiding both men and women in the realms of life purpose, relational communication, sexual intimacy, and embodiment.

In this podcast, John Wineland joins Sounds True’s founder, Tami Simon, to speak about his new book, From the Core: A New Masculine Paradigm for Leading with Love, Living Your Truth, and Healing the World. Tune in for an empowering discussion of the universal polarities we can access to expand our human experience and strengthen interpersonal connection; the work of integration and coming into greater wholeness; living from the core—physically, emotionally, and spiritually; the connection between living from the core and true masculine power; the magnetism of depth; how we benefit by working with our nervous system; answering the classic question, “What do men and women really want?”; the currencies of presence and play; shifting from closure to openness; breaking our “karmic vines” in relationship as a moment-to-moment practice of presence, awareness, and sensitivity; conscious warriorship and the proper use of our fierceness; and more.

No Struggle, No Swag

George Mumford is a world-renowned mindfulness coach who has since 1989 worked with people from all walks of life to help us reach our full potential in whatever we aspire to. A former basketball player at the University of Massachusetts, injuries forced George out of basketball and eventually into an addiction to pain medication and drugs. With the help of meditation and the practice of mindfulness, George got clean and made it his mission to teach and work with others. He is the author of the book The Mindful Athlete: Secrets to Pure Performance.

In this podcast, George speaks with Sounds True founder, Tami Simon, about seeing clearly, loving greatly, and “finding your swag” through the struggles we encounter in pursuit of our goals. George and Tami discuss: His personal journey from the basketball court to the path of meditation and mindfulness; the Four A’s: awareness, acceptance, action, and assessment; right effort and balance, or how “slow is smooth and smooth is fast”; generating hope and optimism instead of falling into fear and negativity; uncovering the “masterpiece” of your inner nature; the importance of self-honesty; “pure performance” in business or athletics; and more.

Becoming a Trauma-Informed Spiritual Explorer

David Treleaven, PhD, is a writer, educator, and trauma professional working at the intersection of mindfulness and trauma. He is the author of Trauma-Sensitive Mindfulness and a visiting scholar at Brown University. David is the founder of Trauma-Sensitive Mindfulness (TSM), a community of practitioners committed to setting a standard of care through mindfulness-based practices, interventions, and programs. 

Mindfulness meditation, yoga, and other spiritual practices bring many benefits, but for those struggling with trauma, those practices can actually amplify their symptoms. That doesn’t mean they should avoid these practices. By adopting trauma-sensitive principles, those healing from trauma often have the most to gain.

In this episode, Sounds True founder Tami Simon speaks with Dr. David Treleaven, a leading voice in Trauma-Sensitive Mindfulness (TSM), to explore the five principles of TSM, why the breath is not always a neutral or safe object of attention, how to tell if an intense meditation experience is helping or not, when to lean in to your practice and when to change direction, techniques to re-ground and regulate, guidance for meditation teachers, the importance of supportive relationships in TSM, and much more.

>