Jazz musician David taking his music to US

David Lyttle on the drums. INPT52
David Lyttle on the drums. INPT52

A jazz musician, whose grandfather was a respected Portadown music teacher, has been chosen for the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s highest award.

David Lyttle (32) is one of just four artists in Northern Ireland to receive the Major Individual Award, worth £15,000.

The drummer, composer and producer, who began performing at the age of four with his family band, will use his award to help fund a residency in the USA in April.

He will be based between Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Francisco and the desert communities in between, and will explore how members of the public connect with jazz through performances, journalistic research and artistic statements at iconic locations.

He said, “I am going to travel with one of my musicians and we’ll be performing in places such as Alcatraz and Area 51 in the Nevada Desert.

“It’s underground music. We’ll just be turning up at venues and hoping people get it. We will also be filming for a documentary.”

His advice to young musicians is to stay open-minded about different opportunities and to keep adapting.

“This (the award) is something that comes after 10 years of proactive, hard work and touring, It’s a great opportunity to be freed to do this.”

Roisin McDonough, chief executive of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said each of the artists “will benefit greatly from being able to take time out to concentrate purely on these exciting, innovative new projects and with the financial backing needed to produce work of lasting value”.

David will also be doing a residency in China later in the year, courtesy of the British Council and PRSF, where he will work with Chinese artists.

As well as drums, the musician has an impressive list of other instruments in his repertoire including bongos, bodhran, mini lambeg drum, cello and uilleann pipes.

A talent for music runs in the family. His grandfather William Collins, who lived in Deer Park (where David’s mum Anne was brought up), taught violin, accordion and guitar.