Cellist Yalda Davis will perform works for solo cello by Jonathan Harvey as part of a new exhibition celebrating his life and music in Snape Maltings from 1 July, 7 H E A V E N S. Davis will perform three pieces as part of a private view at the Dovecote Gallery launching the exhibition: Chant, Three Sketches, and Curve with Plateaux.
Chant was originally written for Viola and reimagined by Harvey for the cellist Frances Marie Uitti; the 2-minute piece, like 1989’s Three Sketches, makes use of an ambitious and challenging scordatura retuning. It is based on a drone and has a ceremonial character. Three Sketches calls for the cello to take on various roles in its 8-minute duration, which are “mostly distant from the high-art lyricist of the nineteenth century: rough rhythmist, folkloric peasant, baroque viol, ethereal spirit, gourmet of artistic curiosities.”
The 12-minute Curve with Plateaux (1982) explores the contrasting sonic and philosophical character of the cello’s three registers, journeying from a tortuous opening at its deepest, rising to an impassioned sequence in its tenor register, before ascending to “the level of thought, which becomes even more refined and delicate”, reaching the transcendence that characterises much of Harvey’s music. As the cello was Harvey’s own instrument, the three pieces draw powerfully on its technical and timbral possibilities, for which Harvey wrote a range of pieces.
The new exhibition celebrates the life and work of Jonathan Harvey ten years after his death. 7 H E A V E N S runs from Friday 1 July to Wednesday 20 July. It is curated by Devi Singh and is a testament to his friendship with the artist Jila Peacock.
7 H E A V E N S presents a collaboration the Iranian-born artist Peacock and Harvey were working on at the time of his death, with Peacock creating a calligraphic response to Harvey’s 2007 piece Messages. The work describes key moments in Messages – such as a sequence where two trombones play from a position offstage – through Peacock’s calligraphic art, itself a reflection of Harvey’s own beautifully handwritten and presented musical scores. Peacock discussed her work with Harvey in 2013 on the BBC World Service. The exhibition also makes use of sound designs from Duncan Chapman.
The exhibition is free to view, with opening times and details here.