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Tuesday, 1 October 2019

Celebrating the centenary of the cellist Kenneth Heath, and the rediscovery of the Cello Concerto written for him by his father, J.R. Heath

Kenneth Heath
Kenneth Heath
Tonight at at St John's Smith Square (1 October 2019) there is a memorial concert and exhibition to celebrate the centenary of the birth of the Kenneth Heath (1/10/1919-1/3/1977). A distinguished cellist whose name is no longer, perhaps, as well known as it ought to be. Heath trained at the Northern College of Music (which became part of the RNCM), and went on to play with the London Symphony Orchestra, as well as being a founder member of the Academy of St Martin in the Fields. With the Academy he participated in virtually every recording session from the group's founding, some 150 in all.

For the concert at St John's, Jacqueline Shave will conduct the Regents Consort, with cellist Michael Petrov and pianst William Howard in music which played a strong part in Heath's musical life, Bach's 'Prelude' from the Cello Suite No. 5 in C minor BWV1011, Beethoven's Piano Trio No. 3 in C minor, Handel's Concerto Grosso Op. 6 No. 7 in Bb major HWV325, and the Cello Concerto written for Heath in 1938 (when he was 19 years old) by his father J.R.Heath. J.R.Heath was a doctor by profession, but also a musician and a composer. He worked as a GP in the Barmouth area, where he founded the Barmouth Choral Union and was associated with the composers Joseph Holbrooke and Granville Bantock, and his compositions were influenced both by Welsh and by Balkan culture (he saw service in the Balkans during the First World War). The performance of J.R.Heath's Cello Concerto will be the first since 1962.

In his obituary in The Times newspaper later that month, George Malcolm wrote: “He wanted no more than to be what he was: an absolutely first-class professional cellist, whose musicianship, technique and artistic sensitivity had survived, uncorrupted and unflawed, after years of orchestral dogging. The love and respect of his fellow professionals was his reward.

There is also an exhibition about Kenneth Heath's life, in the box office area at St John's.

Full details from the St John's Smith Square website.

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