Alumni Spotlight

Alex Petcu - Percussionist

31 Oct
Alex Petcu

Alex Petcu is quickly establishing himself both nationally and internationally as a percussionist of the finest calibre. He featured as a soloist with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra and RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra and was named as the National Concert Hall’s Rising Star recitalist. 

His debut album, ‘Alex Petcu: In Time’ was released on the RTÉ lyric fm label and he recently collaborated with composer Sam Perkin on a piece commissioned by the Irish Chamber Orchestra. Alex talks to us about his time at UCC and how his knowledge of Physics has helped him with his music.

Course/subjects studied in University College Cork
Physics, BSc and MSc.

Best memory of UCC
I loved the extra-curricular activities and getting involved in college life outside of lectures. If I could roll back the clock I would have maybe done more, but I often didn't have the time with all my involvement in music.

How has your time at UCC helped you to get to where you are now?
Considering I am now working as a musician, I think I can safely say I took quite a different path to most people once I finished college. To be honest, I'm really happy that I studied what I did and think having a technical background in any scientific discipline can be useful no matter what you end up doing.
In my case, knowledge of physics has given me a strong intuition for how instruments function, how sound travels in concert halls, etc., and I actually design some of my own instruments now. Having strong numerical skills has also helped me in learning and understanding complex music more easily.

What is your advice to current UCC students?
I think in general, the more you put in, the more you get out. That goes for both the academic and other parts of college life.

What person/people at UCC had the most positive influence on you?
Definitely my classmates. Physics didn't have a huge uptake so we were quite a tight-knit bunch.

Were you involved in any Clubs or Societies?
Yes, I was involved in the UCC Circus club (or juggling club since most of us that started it were into juggling in particular).

Favourite UCC legend or superstition
It being bad luck to walk through the centre of the Quad before passing your exams!
I actually did a performance recently where I had to do just that! It was a short piece of music that was commissioned for the 
Cork Midsummer Festival and was written by composer, Tom Lane. It was written especially to be performed in the Quad and make use of the different echoes that occur when you stand in different places.

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