From Lima, Peru, Oscar Quilca Barcelli is an internationally renowned drummer, educator, and composer. He was first introduced to music at the age of 7 when he learned how to play the traditional Peruvian flute. He then joined the school band and developed years of performance experience while touring around Lima. It wasn’t until age 15 that Oscar discovered his passion for percussion. Since then, Oscar has been known for his versatility in his abilities to play any type of percussion while he creates emotion through his rhythms.
Oscar Quilca Barcelli’s “Regina’s Dream” is a four and a half minute, multi-instrumental piece. Throughout the song, Oscar Quilca Barcelli keeps listeners on their toes by constantly switching up the beat and the intensity. Each section of “Regina’s Dream” seems to deliver a different mood, as if it was a soundtrack for a retro cartoon. For example, rapid plucking of a bass drum that increases in pitch could be the sound of a character quickly running up the stairs. Throughout “Regina’s Dream,” Oscar Quilca Barcelli includes a multitude of instruments including piano, saxophone, and guitar. Although the tone often changes, the most prominent sounds throughout the song are the percussion instruments. He switches from cymbals to drums to maracas and more to add certain effects and emotions to specific sections. With “Regina’s Dream,” Oscar Quilca Barcelli shows us his natural ear for music.
Listen to “Regina’s Dream” here.
You have worked with Sofia Carson, Rafa Sardina, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Kurt Elling, Oscar Stagnaro, Russell Taylor, Jo Lawry, Juan Carlos Fernandez, and Jesus Molina to name a few. What have you learned from collaborating with these artists?
Working with some of the most important artists in the music industry has been a great and unique experience for me. Each one of them taught me something different that will be very useful for my career. I worked with them on various occasions such as concerts, productions, master classes, rehearsals and much more. What they all have in common is humility. I believe that is the main thing I learned from them, as well as how to infuse passion and dedication into music. This has been an important personal takeaway, as I feel they helped me realize the impact music has on my life. I’m so grateful to know these professionals and will always remember the experiences for the rest of my life.
You are not only a successful percussionist and composer, but you are also an educator. Why is it important to you to give back to the music community through education?
I believe that educators have the most important role when a musician is beginning his/her career. I have met many people that loved music when they were young but ultimately left it because their teacher was either "boring" or "not passionate enough to teach". I believe if they had a more inspirational teacher, maybe they would have taken music more seriously and their future could have been different. A true educator must know the importance of his/her work and display the same passion and dedication they feel when performing. For me, it's important to give back to the music community through education because music is an innovative art and continuously changes. Whenever I teach, I always try to relay all my knowledge because I consider it important that the students have professional experience as they begin their music careers. I have been fortunate to have truly amazing mentors and teachers throughout my career, and I'm sure that they directly impacted who I am now. They taught me that to be successful in music, you need passion, discipline, dedication, and hard work on a daily basis. I believe that talent alone does not make a musician successful, and it’s definitely something educators need to be teaching their students.
You had the privilege of performing at the 20th Latin Grammy Awards in Las Vegas. What did you learn from this experience? How did it help you grow as an artist?
This was probably the most incredible experience I've ever had in my career. I always knew I wanted to be a musician and to perform on the big stage, and after attending the Latin Grammy Awards, these thoughts have only been reinforced. Being there, with all the most important Latin artists across the world, was a sensation that is very hard to describe. At the backstage, I felt like one of them, but at the same time, I am also a huge fan. So it felt like I was playing two different roles. At the Latin Grammy Awards, I learned how important humility is for truly successful artists.
I learned a lot of first-hand as well while performing at this exclusive event. Music is about the expression of your feelings through voice or your instrument. When I performed, everything changed in my soul and my mind. The most shocking part was after playing and going backstage, where I met Rosalia preparing to enter the stage. I was like, "I just performed at the Gala of the Grammys and now it’s Rosalia's turn...WOW". And after her came many other artists who I have admired all my life. As an artist, it gave me a different perspective of life and music. It was such a pleasant shock being there and meeting all those accomplished artists. One of my goals is to be back on that stage. The experience changed my life forever.
You are currently working on new releases for your Afro-Peruvian project. Can you tell us what we can expect from this project?
I started this project almost three years ago. My vision is to bring traditional music from my country and to add some Jazz harmony and instruments. I started by just playing some Jazz arrangements but then decided to take a big step and start working on original music. I just released my very first single titled "Regina's Dream". There’s also meaning behind the name, as "Regina" means "Reina" in Spanish (Queen in English). Crown means "Corona" in Spanish, so I related this to the Coronavirus. I decided to translate it in Italian because when I was working on the tune, the COVID-19 epicenter was Italy. I also have many friends in Italy, so I view the title as a tribute in support of everyone who has been affected. My intention is that this song will inspire hope and bring peace to people across the world. In terms of the song’s makeup, it is a fusion of Afro-Peruvian Jazz with a Rock guitar style and a Pop concept. The song comes with a very innovative rhythm motif in the rhythm section and a legato melody that repeats constantly. It was influenced by Geoffrey Keezer's album titled "Aurea". I have received very positive feedback so far, so I’m excited to share my work!
I will also be releasing my EP by the end of May. This EP is one of the craziest things I've ever worked on in my career. It combines many styles, but especially the Afro-Peruvian vibe. The whole EP shares this theme, and I am very excited to release it soon. It’s definitely an interesting and complex fusion, and it’s proven to be very danceable as well.