David Heath

b. 1956



David Heath was born in Manchester in 1956. He attended the Guildhall
School of Music and Drama where he studied flute, and began to play
modern jazz at the age of 17. His first work, Out of the Cool, was
written in 1978 following a request from fellow flautist Richard Blake
for a piece that would make him sound and feel as if he were playing
jazz. It has since been played throughout the world in versions for
violin or saxophone as well as for flute. Out of the Cool and subsequent
pieces such as Rumani (1979) and Coltrane (1981) are based on the
chords and rhythm of modern jazz fully notated and in a classical

Not long after completing Fight the Lion for piano in 1982, Heath's work
changed direction. His next piece, Rise from the Dark for full
orchestra was based on utterly different techniques: rock-based rhythms
and extreme harmony - more aggressive and more romantic, sometimes using
avant-garde sound against beautiful chord sequences. Subsequent pieces
in this style, such as On Fire (written in 1986 for cello and piano) and
Berlin Wall for violin, cello and piano (1990), and The Frontier (1989)
incorporate funk rhythms, avant-garde and minimalist techniques.

Heath has since written major works for James Galway, Nigel Kennedy and
percussionist Evelyn Glennie. Galway gave the first performance of the
flute concerto Free the Spirit with the Philharmonia and conductor
Leonard Slatkin. Heath's violin concerto for Kennedy, Alone At The
Frontier, despite receiving a standing ovation from the audience,
outraged the American musical establishment at its premiere through the
use of a rap choir and a graffiti daubed backdrop. By contrast the piece
for Glennie, African Sunrise - Manhattan Rave for solo percussion and
orchestra, while received with equal enthusiasm by the public, was also
highly acclaimed by the press at it's first UK and US performances.

Among Heath's most recent orchestral works are four pieces resulting
from his appointment as Composer in Residence with the BT Scottish
Ensemble between 1993 and 1996. These are The Four Elements, The Celtic,
The Connemara and most recently The Rage, which was premiered in
Scotland during the spring of 1996. In 1994 BBC 2 featured Heath as part
of their Mad About Music series in an episode named Inspiration. Heath
is also a professional flautist who records in a wide range of styles,
from a solo feature on Sting's US-released single Mad About You and
various solo recordings with guitarist Dominic Miller, Jerry Dammers'
Free Nelson Mandela, Michael Kamen, Robert Lockhart and Barrington
Pheloung. Heath plays on an early Cooper flute, the `Excalibur', rebuilt
for him specially by the renowned maker Albert Cooper.