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David Heyes

David Heyes: The Last Poppy for double bass quartet

David Heyes: The Last Poppy for double bass quartet

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Originally written for double bass trio, this new version for quartet was created in 2015. The melodic material is essentially the same although rescored and slightly expanded for the new ensemble.


"Great piece, very effective and moving work for double bass trio." [Chris Clark, Double Bass Professor at The College of New Jersey, USA]

" It went over very well - a few people in the audience said it was their favorite piece." [Michael Cameron, Professor of Music, University of Illinois]

"...a dark and poet lamentation" [Steve Wragg]

About The Last Poppy

The Last Poppy was inspired by the momentous and evocative poppy installation 'Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red' at the Tower of London in 2014. Created by artists Paul Cummins and Tom Piper, 888,246 ceramic poppies progressively filled the Tower's famous moat, each poppy representing a British military fatality during the First World War. More than 4 million people visited the poppies and my third visit, a few days before 11 November, was at 6.30am and just as the City of London was awakening. The site was almost empty and there was an eerie stillness that enhanced the beauty and poignancy of the poppies and what each one represented.

Driving back to Somerset a few ideas emerged and the form of the trio slowly took shape. The slow introduction, with its solemn and slow moving melody is set against a high harmonic drone, evoking the stillness of the early morning as London slowly awoke. The soloist then becomes the accompanist providing a grounding drone contrasting the more lyrical melodies, played in thirds, as the drama and futility of war are evoked with simple and evocative textures and themes.

The final section played entirely in harmonics, is gently unsettling as bass 1 challenges the melodic unity of the other basses, the music gently fading into the distance as a few notes of the Last Post are heard in the far distance. A brief silence is broken by a strong and positive D major chord, in six parts, which offers a chord of hope and reconciliation.

The Last Poppy was premiered on 31 January 2015 at Wells Cathedral School (Somerset, UK) by Joe Prindl, Matthew Green, and David Heyes.

The Last Poppy had its US premiere on 12 April 2015 at The College of New Jersey (Ewing, New Jersey) by Victoria Weniger, Tom Littwin, and Ryan Wickham, students of Chris Clark.

Photo: Sarah Poole

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