David Heyes writes: "Alexander Heather is a superbly gifted and talented bassist and I have learned as much from him as he has from me - a truly special student. In 2016 I dedicated 'Luonnotar' to Alex, the second of my Finnish Sketches and composed for Teppo-Fest 2016 to celebrate Teppo Hauta-aho's 75th birthday, which Alex premiered during the weekend.
In March Alex asked if I would write a piece for him to play in our 'Typically Teppo' concert on Friday 3 May in Quilter Hall in Wells (Somerset). I was flattered that he wanted a piece and 'A Song for Alex' is very special for me as it brings together two great friends and a great student in one composition.
I started writing at the end of term and used A,E,B(H) from Alex's name as the starting point. I made a few sketches and then the notes sat on the music stand for some weeks. Since then my great friend Tony Osborne died on 30 March, at the age of 71, and I wanted to write something in Tony's memory and the two ideas came together in this one piece. The fact that the premiere was in the Teppo concert, the final piece in the programme, is special for me and this will be Alex's last official solo performance in a bass concert in this academic year before he leaves us in July to study at the Royal Academy of Music in London.
'A Song for Alex' lasts a little over 5 minutes and has an arch-like format with a passionate and powerful middle section towards the end of the fingerboard before slowly descending into the lowest register, ending as slowly and simply as it began.
Tony Osborne and I were friends for almost 30 years and his death is still a shock and something which I cannot really comprehend at the moment. I have played and premiered dozens of pieces by Tony, many commmissioned for Bass-Fest and the Wells Bass Weekend, and have also taught many of his great pieces to my students. Tony's 'Aeolian Air' is a beautifully simple and evocative work which is always popular with players and audiences and is written in the aeolian mode, just using the whote notes of the piano. I like this mode and have used it many times in my own pieces and it seemed appropriate for this piece but I have added one E flat into bars 12, 106 and 107 just to be mildly rebellious! I hope Tony would approve...."
A Song for Alex was premiered at Quilter Hall, Wells (Somerset) on Friday 3 May 2019 by Alexander Heather (double bass).
David Heyes studied double bass with Laurence Gray and Bronwen Naish, later at the Royal College of Music in London, and completed his post-graduate studies in Prague with Frantisek Posta (Principal Bass, Czech Philharmonic Orchestra). He has given recitals and masterclasses in 13 countries over the past few years and has been a juror at a number of international competitions, twice as chairman.
David has been Specialist Double Bass Tutor at Wells Cathedral School for 20 years, alongside a thriving and busy private teaching studio, and for a year was Contemporary Performer-in-Residence at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester. He is a founder member of Basso Bravura! (with soprano Sarah Poole), co-founded the Bristol Bass Club and London Basses Workshops and is Artistic Director of Bass-Fest. David's collaborative work gained him a prestigious award from the David Walter Charitable Trust of New York for his pioneering activities as a soloist, teacher, publisher and commissioner of new music for double bass and he works with composers throughout the world to expand the double bass repertoire by commissioning new music and by rediscovering forgotten ones. Since 1990 more than 500 works have been written for him, music from one to twenty basses and from beginner to virtuoso, and he has premiered ten contemporary concertos with orchestra.
David has transcribed and performed a wealth of music for double bass and in recent years has composed a number of original works which have been performed both nationally and internationally. Six works inspired by the centenary of the First World War have been particularly successful and his choral and vocal music has been performed with success in Britain, Ireland and America. He composed 'Sahara' for unaccompanied double bass as the imposed work for the 2015 Galicia Graves Double Bass competition in Spain and returns there as Featured Composer and guest tutor in 2017. Since 2014 David has had music performed in 23 countries (UK, USA, Germany, Czech Republic, Mexico, Turkey, Venezuela, Australia, Republic of Ireland, Israel, Malta, Brazil, Denmark, Ecuador, Japan, France, Slovakia, Italy, New Zealand, Norway, Austria, Spain and Guatamala). In November 2016 two of his songs were recorded by Sarah Poole (soprano) and Derek Harris (piano) for Prima Facie Records, who also recorded an entire CD of works by David in January 2017.
In 1986 David founded the publishing company Recital Music, which now has the largest catalogue of double bass music in the world, and has written articles and reviews for the leading specialist magazines including The Strad, Bass News, Music Teacher, Double Bassist, ESTA News & Views and Classical Music.
David Heyes is a D'Addario Performing Artist and has recently commissioned a solo double bass from British master-luthier Martin Penning.