…it is difficult to describe what Derek Menchan does because he seems to just be a happening—a phenomenon ---so it is not so much that he does anything. He can be said to teach, to instruct; to mentor--- but it is so totally free and without constraints, so utterly without labels, what he does, that---he doesn’t really do anything! It is even harder to put him into a box, but let’s try: Menchan was classically trained at the Manhattan School of Music, in ‘cello, and won the prestigious Pablo Casals Award for Musical Achievement and Human Endeavor, and other commendations, from that conservatory. Also a prize-winning visual artist, Menchan has been solo ‘cellist for several orchestras and ensembles, including the New York Pro Arte Ensemble, the Orlando Symphony, and Houston’s OrchestraX. Menchan has concertized extensively throughout the U.S. and also in Canada and Europe. As a jazz musician, he held a standing electric ‘cello -based trio and quartet for 7 years, sometimes alternating to the bass. He also was founding member of the highly successful Kimberlite Piano Trio, while in Houston.
Having done doctoral work at the University of Houston under former New York Philharmonic solo ‘cellist Laszlo Varga, Menchan has also received instruction from Mstislav and Olga Rostropovich, Harvey Shapiro, and Janos Starker. Additionally, Menchan has performed with such popular names as Stevie Wonder, Robert Plant and Jimmy Paige, Ray Charles, Diana Ross, Rod Stewart, and many more. Through his collaborations, also, with various visual artists, singers, dancers, poets, and performance artists, Menchan has developed his own unique and intensely personal approach to the ‘cello and to music, which is, at once, highly communicative and visceral; his instrument becomes a viable extension of his large and kaleidoscopic personality. He is highly sought after for soundtracks and incidental music for site-specific art exhibits of all kinds, from representational media to the most avant garde. His joint efforts with sensational Houston artists Tierney Malone, Kristina Spritzer, Bert Samples, and the late Andy Mann make him a favorite partner for synergistic efforts within the rich Houston-based consortium of young, talented artists.
An orchestrator and composer, Menchan owns his own record label, BluClok Records, for which he has worked with Grammy Award-winning producers and engineers Mike Dean, and Mike Moore, both of of Kanye West, and Rocafella Records fame.
Currently a professor of the humanities and of music at Polk State College in Central Florida and advisor of the college’s Philosophy Club, Menchan has long been hailed as a rare creative genius that challenges his students to think for themselves and pursue self-realization. You cannot be lukewarm with this cat; you either love his style, or hate him. His colleagues and students have referred to him as a “modern day Socrates” who deftly shakes up the all –too –comfortable status quo with his highly personalized maxims and hyper-intellectual admonitions. His classroom is at once a laboratory, a heated forum for debate and challenges, and a child’s sandbox…
…Menchan was dubbed an “Uber ‘cellist” and as being “one engagement away from being a the next crossover king” by Inside Houston Magazine. He was also noted for being one of the four most creative people in Polk County, Florida, by East Polk Lifestyles Magazine.
©2010-2014 Derek Menchan. All rights reserved.