Dave Heath is, unquestionably, one of the most pertinent composers working in Britain today. He has written concertos and other major works which have been performed worldwide for, among others, James Galway, Nigel Kennedy, Piers Lane, Julian Lloyd-Weber,Clio Gould, and Evelyn Glennie.

As a virtuoso flautist he has worked with many orchestras as well as in the contemporary and pop fields, most notably with Sting, Michael Kamen, John Martyn, Lee 'Scratch' Perry and Dominic Miller.

As a producer he has worked on Nigel Kennedys recent duo album with cellist Lynn Harrell and on Kennedy's Hendrix project for Sony.

An album of all Heath's works for percussionist Evelyn Glennie with the London Philharmonic Orchestra {conducted by Heath himself} has just been released on the Black Box label.

Dave Heath was born in Manchester in 1956. After studying flute at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama with William Bennett and Edward Beckett, he began playing jazz professionally at the age of 17. His first work, Out of the Cool, was written in 1978 following a request from fellow flautist Richard Blake. Heath's subsequent pieces Rumania(1979) and Coltrane (1981) are based within the same idiom as Out of the Cool, on the chords and rhythm of modern jazz fully notated in a classical format. Nevertheless, shortly after completing Fight the Lion (1982) for piano there were shifts in Heath's compositional direction. His next piece Rise from the Dark for full orchestra was based on entirely different techniques: a juxtaposition of rhythm and extreme harmony by degrees more aggressive and yet more romantic, the avant-garde set against beautiful chord sequences.

Subsequent pieces in this style are On Fire (1986) originally written for cello and piano but most recently performed by Kennedy with John Lenehan during the former's Viennese debut in 1998; solo string piece The Frontier (1989), piano concerto The Passion (1990), & Berlin Wall (1991) for violin, cello and piano. James Galway gave the first performance of Heath's flute concerto Free The Spirit (1992) with the Philharmonia under conductor Leonard Slatkin. During 1992, Heath was commisioned by the Minnesota Orchestra to write a violin concerto for Nigel Kennedy which would challenge the soloist uniquely. 'Quite simply, the soloist doesn't have a part... it's total improvisation. The difficult thing is the pacing... if you blow yourself out after two minutes, there's still another twenty-eight to go'. Premiered over three consecutive nights in Minneapolis during March 1993, Alone at the Frontier, outraged the American music establishment through the use of a rap choir and graffiti daubed backdrop... The audience, in contrast, gave the work a standing ovation. Conversely, Heaths first piece for Evelyn Glennie, African Sunrise/Manhattan Rave, was received with equal enthusiasm by the public and media at its premieres on both sides of the Atlantic.

From 1993 - 1996 Heath was Composer in Residence with the BT Scottish Ensemble and was profiled by BBC2 TV during 1994 in a programme entitled Inspiration. His orchestral works within that period were The Four Elements, The Celtic, The Connemara and The Rage, the latter being premiered in Scotland during the Spring of 1996. His violin concerto The Celtic was recorded by Clio Gould as was The Four Elements with percussionist Kirk Richardson. In 1997, Heath arranged, orchestrated and conducted The Scottish Chamber Orchestra with Aly Bain and Karen Mathieson in Phil Cunningham's Celtic Orchestral extravaganza The Highlands And Islands Suite, a performance which opened the Glasgow Celtic Connection Festival.

In October 1998 Ballet Rambert's director Christopher Bruce, choreographed a ballet to Heath's violin concerto The Celtic for the opening night of the New Sadler's Wells Theatre. This ballet, Four Scenes, has now become part of the company's repertoire. Future projects include Gottlieb a work for solo organ, and an opera, Everyday Occurrence; a love affair set in the pit of an orchestra. Top of page ^

 

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