John Alexander writes: "This piece was commissioned for the Mittenwald International Masterclass and Double Bass Camp 2016 and is dedicated to Andreas Bennetzen and Jeff Bradetich.
In 1930, Clyde Tombaugh discovered the planet Pluto whilst working at the Lowell Observatory in Arizona. He was 24 and had yet to attend college.
Pluto lies 3 billion miles from the sun and – because of its position at the outer reaches of the solar system – actually takes two and a half of our centuries to complete a single orbit. After a nine and a half year journey from Earth, NASA’s New Horizon space probe gently flew by Pluto in July 2015, sending back astonishing pictures of the planet that included an iconic image of a large heart shape on its pale reddish surface.
In celebration of the pioneering discoverer, NASA named this area “Tombaugh’s Regio”; and, with a small amount of his ashes aboard the New Horizon craft, a trace of Clyde Tombaugh’s remarkable mortal self was bought close to the new world he had discovered 85 years earlier.
It is the fresh and unexpectedly romantic image of Pluto, along with the astounding scientific achievement, that have inspired, informed and driven the compositional journey of ‘tombaugh’s heart’.
The premiere of tombaugh's heart was given at the Mittenwald International Masterclass and Double Bass Camp 2016 on Saturday 6th August 2016, in Germany under the direction of Andreas Bennetzen."
John Alexander was born in West Sussex in 1942 and began to compose at the age of 20. At the time he discovered a fascination for art, literature, dance, architecture and sculpture and these topics, along with mathematics, have continued to have a bearing on his work. He studied composition with Edmund Rubbra at the Guildhall School of Music in London, and later with Jonathan Harvey and Peter Wiegold at the University of Sussex.
John Alexander has never been a prolific composer, but an impressive and growing body of work reflects a rare eye for detail and structure - each work beautifully crafted and reworked until every inflection, detail and nuance is perfect. Probably best described as a miniaturist, he writes in a fluent, independent and strongly personal style with an intense desire to create music which communicates to both performer and audience alike.
In 1999 John Alexander won the 1st BIBF Composition Contest and was invited to be a judge for several BIBF competitions. He was a featured composer at Bass-Fest 2001, was an spnm short-listed composer for three years, and was Composer-in-residence at the 2004 Rotterdam Conservatoire Double Bass Weekend, Bass-Fest 2006 and 2007 Wells Double Bass Weekend. His works have been performed and broadcast throughout the world and he was written an impressive and unique body of work for double bass.