Passchendaele - a Meditation

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Passchendaele - a Meditation was inspired by an iconic photograph of Australian gunners on a duckboard track in Château Wood near Hooge taken by by Frank Hurley on 29 October 1917. It is the fifth of a growing body of works by David Heyes which commemorate the centenary of the First World War, which include:

No Man's Land for double bass & piano or double bass & violin octet
The Last Poppy for double bass trio, double bass quartet or 2 double basses and piano
the poppies blow... for double bass & piano
Beneath the Stars for double bass & piano

The Battle of Passchendaele, also known as the Third Battle of Ypres, was a campaign of the First World War, fought by the Allies against the German Empire. The battle took place on the Western Front, from July to November 1917, for control of the ridges south and east of the Belgian city of Ypres in West Flanders, as part of a strategy decided by the Allies at conferences in November 1916 and May 1917 Now spelt Passendale, this small village five miles north-east of Ypres is the name by which the final stages of the Third Battle of Ypres is known. It is the name, along with the Somme, which has come to symbolise the Great War for many.

Passchendaele church was totally destroyed by shellfire in 1917 but has since been reconstructed and now dominates the village square. Within the church are memorial windows in honour of the 66th Division. There are three windows. The left states "1914" at the bottom, with the names and shields of several northern towns above, including Bury, Accrington, Bolton, Blackburn and Wigan.

David Heyes writes: "My very first work to commemorate the centenary of the start of the First World war (No Man's Land) was dedicated to the memories of my two grandfathers, who both fought in the war. They survived the conflict, living into the 1970s, but rarely spoke about their experiences. My paternal grandfather, John Heyes, fought at the Somme and Ypres and it is more than likely took part in the Battle of Passchendaele, and was originally from Wigan and the town is now commemorated in a window in Passchendaele church.

The music is simple and slow moving, contrasting strong and powerful emotions from the two soloists, set against a simple and repetitive accompaniment which subtly underpins the melodic lines. There are opportunities to display the lyrical and sonorous qualities of the double bass, whether as a duet or in the two solo soliloquies, which eventually die away into nothingness and into the mists of time..."

Passchendaele - a Meditation exists in five versions, for 2 double basses and string quartet, for 2 double basses and piano, for double bass sextet, for viola, double bass and piano, or for 2 double basses

The original version was premiered at Lanlivery Church (Lanlivery, Cornwall) on Saturday 17 July 2015 by David Heyes (double bass), Joe Prindl (double bass) and the Liskeard Chamber Players. It is dedicated to Joe Prindl, who studied with David at Wells Cathedral School (Somerset) and is now a student at the Royal Academy of Music in London.

The version for 2 double basses and piano was premiered on Sunday 25 October 2015 at Clifton College (Bristol, UK) by David Heyes (double bass), Ben Groenevelt (double bass) and Rustom Battiwalla (piano). It received its Mexican premiere on 20 November 2015 by Marco Antonio Quiñones Martinez (double bass), Hector Tirado (double bass) and Patricia Miravete (piano).

"Passchendaele is a wonderful piece..." (Marco Antonio Quiñones Martinez, Mexico)

"What a privilege to share the stage with you both. It was a thoroughly enjoyable evening. I have rarely seen an audience, adults and young children alike, so visibly moved as during Passchendaele - a Meditation. Extraordinary stuff." [Ruth O'Shea, violinist]

"Passchendaele was extraordinary both as a piece and as a performance by you both. I haven't heard something as wonderful as that for some time." [Luke, member of the audience]

David Heyes studied double bass with Laurence Gray and Bronwen Naish and later at the Royal College of Music in London. He completed his post-graduate studies in Prague with Frantisek Posta (Principal Double 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 23 years and received 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. He works with composers throughout the world and is particularly interested to expand the double bass repertoire, by commissioning new works and by rediscovering forgotten ones. Over the past 30 years he has commissioned more than 500 works, from beginner to virtuoso, and from one to twenty basses.

Since 2014 David has had music performed in 27 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, Guatemala, Patagonia, Albania, Russia and Belgium). 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.

See http://contrabassconversations.com/2016/10/24/264-david-heyes-leaving-legacy/

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Cat No. RM1106
Supplier Code RM1106
Price £8.50
ComposerDavid Heyes
CategoryDouble Bass Duet
Difficulty level7 - 8
Weight 109 grams
Published 22nd July 2020
Availability 9 in stock
See also...
RM904  Passchendaele - a Meditation (DOUBLE BASS SEXTET)
RM937  Passchendaele - a Meditation (TWO DOUBLE BASSES & STRING QUARTET)
RM966  Passchendaele - a Meditation (DOUBLE BASS & OTHER INSTRUMENTS)