Derek Bell
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Derek Bell

Joined: 1974 Died: 2002

Long before The Chieftains, Derek, a native of Belfast, had an accomplished musical career. A child prodigy who wrote his first concerto at age 12, he studied at the Royal College of Music and throughout Europe & The United States with such renowned teachers as Leon Goossens and Madam Rosina Lhevinne. His training and study took him to London and Colorado.

Derek appeared with Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and symphony orchestras of Pittsburgh, Moscow, London and Budapest and was at one time a principle oboe, horn and piano player for the American Wind Symphony Orchestra. He composed piano sonatas and a symphony in E-flat for orchestra, and also recieved the Manns Prize from the Royal College of Music for his musical talents.

He joined the Chieftains as a fulltime member in 1974 with his appearance on the Chieftains 4 release. He had guested with them several times up to this, particularly on some Turlough O’ Carolan (the legendary 17th century blind Irish harper) arrangements performed in Ireland.

Derek is best known for his talents on the harp, but he was an accomplished musician on the oboe, horn, cor anglais, hammered dulcimer and keyboards. His talents on the oboe and keyboards were integrated into the sounds of the Chieftains. His talents on the hammered dulcimer has lead to the recreation of the ancient irish instrument known as the tiompan. Besides recording with The Chieftains, Derek recorded six solo albums, five on harp and one on piano. Derek also played the oboe, harpsichord, mediaeval harp, Kurzweil synthesizer, organ, piano, and keyboard.
Derek lived in Belfast with his wife Stephanie and his many much loved cats, until October 2002 when he sadly passed away.

Harp, Tiompán, Cor Anglais