News | Biography |Works |Recordings |Contact




Short Biography 2007

David Heath began writing music in 1975, basing his music harmonically and rhythmically on the music of John Coltrane and Miles Davis.

He is now regarded as one of Britains most controversial musical figures, referred to by the Glasgow Herald as ............ "the UK's most outrageous yet accessible contemporary composer" whilst the Gramophone recently wrote "Heath has developed a voice and style............that has developed into a genre of its own" .

Heath's early pieces written between 1975 and 1982 "Out of the Cool" "Rumania" "Fight the Lion" and 'Coltrane" are all modern jazz based, and have been played and recorded worldwide.In the 1980's he began to incorporate rock and studio techniques into his compositions, and by the 1990's after settling in Scotland, his music had become influenced by Celtic and natural sound.

In 2005 Heath had a profound religious experience about which his most recent works have been concerned.

Heath has written for several of the greatest instrumentalists of our time.He wrote two flute concertos for James Galway "Free the spirit" and "Heaven and earth" and a major percussion concerto for Evelyn Glennie "African Sunrise-Manhattan Rave".The percussion concerto was subsequently recorded by Glennie and the London Philharmonic by Black Box on a highly praised disc of the same name.

His electric violin concerto for Nigel Kennedy "Alone at the Frontier" was premiered in Minneapolis 1993, contained the first ever beat box choir,and caused a sensation in the USA.

In 2003 his work "Sirocco" was premiered at the Barbican London by violinist Ittai Shapira,oboist John Anderson and the English Chamber Orchestra.A highly regarded disc "Sirocco" was subsequently released by Black Box.

In 2005 he wrote the score for a documentary about Daniel Pearl "the Journalist and the Jihadi" premiered on HBO in 2006 and based on his violin and orchestra piece commissioned by Daniel Pearl's father Judea entitled "Elegy for Daniel Pearl". In the same year he scored a ballet for choreographer Christopher Bruce and the Ballet Rambert " A Steel Garden".

April 2007 saw the premiere of his first opera "Everyday Occurrence" a love affair set in the pit of an orchestra and his major choral work "Spirit of the Truth" which was premiered at St Albans Abbey.

He is presently writing an oboe concerto for John Anderson and English Chamber Orchestra "Mirage".


Dave Heath 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, Dominic Miller and William Orbit.

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.