|7 Little Australians||Cyrano de Bergerac|
Australian expatriate Australian composer, organist, and conductor, David Reeves was born in Sydney, Australia in 1943. His first professional organ post was as Director of Music at the ‘Garrison Church’ at the Rocks whilst still at school. He studied at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music under Alexander Sverjensky (piano) and George Faunce Allman and Norman Johnston (organ). He won both of the coveted overseas music scholarships available in the early sixties, the Alice Bryant Memorial Scholarship for Organists and the Sydney Organ Society Scholarship for Overseas Study.
After returning to Australia from London he was appointed Director of Music at Abbotsleigh by Betty Archdale where he remained based for three years building the music department whilst at the same time arranging and performing. He worked as a recitalist in all the main venues in Australia including radio broadcasts by the A.B.C. He was especially sought after for his final improvisations which concluded nearly all his recitals and were a feature of his liturgical performance. He became particularly identified with the famous 'Hill' organ in the Sydney Town Hall where he worked extensively between 1963 and 1978 as a recitalist and performing at Civic Receptions, School Speech Days, even evenings for the presentation of advertising awards and in broadcasts for the A.B.C. as well as annual performances of both the Bach St. Matthew and St. John passions. He recorded the first commercial organ alburm on the Unison label in 1971 which set a record for sales of organ recordings at the time. Over the next six years he went on to record nine organ albums on instruments throughout the country.
He accompanied the very popular annual Combined Churches' presentations of Handel's "Messiah" conducted by Richard Thew for eighteen years. These performances filled The Sydney Town Hall for three nights each year and were a highlight of the Christmas calendar in the sixties and seventies. During this period he was appointed accompanist for the Sydney University Graduate Choir whose choral repertoire was wide and included the major works of Bach and the Baroque composers. He held several church positions as Organist and Director of Music, the first of which was at the Garrison Church in Sydney's Rocks area whilst still at school.
The renowned firm of English organ builders, J.W. Walker and Sons expanded into Australia in the 1960's and appointed Reeves as their recitalist leading to the opening recitals of many new and rebuilt organs throughout Australia. He also indulged is passion for jazz at several venues in Sydney and for several months took on the musical direction of a leading Sydney nightclub until his other commitments made this impossible.
In the late seventies he started to move more into advertising, film and commercial music and was awarded many creative contracts including the Hanna Barbera Christmas film of "Silent Night", the musical recording "Pilgrimage" a commercial album celebrating the musical highlights of the first Papal Tour of Australia, a music and poetry album featuring the voice and writing of Sydney radio personality John Laws. During this time he was a regular adjudicator for Channel Nine in Sydney with its ‘New Faces’ Talent Programmes. Music education has always been a passion and Reeves has adjudicated numerous Eisteddfods including the City of Sydney, Parramatta, Gunnedah and Tamworth Eisteddfods amongst many others. He has given workshops, been appointed as 'composer in residence' including at Gordonstoun School in Scotland, and was the founder of the Australian "Operation Young Composer" Award programme which has provided opportunity for overseas study for several young Australian composers, including Neridah Tyson.
The Australian Bicentennial Authority appointed Reeves as composer for the soundtrack to the promotional film for the "Tall Ships" celebration on Sydney Harbour in 1988. Also in that year his theatre musical, "Seven Little Australians" based on the classic Australian story originally created by Ethel Turner, opened at the Comedy Theatre in Melbourne. The musical was to run for two hundred and thirty performances in the main theatres throughout the eastern states. The Royal Queensland Theatre Company produced a sellout season in 1991 and David Reeves was nominated for an ARIA award for his score and original EMI cast recording of "Seven Little Australians". The amateur rights are now regularly taken up and many musical societies have performed the piece in recent years. The musical is currently being adapted for film. David Reeves' opera "Cyrano de Bergerac" was similarly received when recorded by members of the Queensland Opera accompanied by the Queensland Symphony Orchestra. Concert performances of the opera were given in 1995 under the auspices of the Queensland Performing Arts Trust and the opera was narrated by Sir John Mills. Reeves was presented with the Variety Club Award for Service to the Arts in 1995.
By now completely based in London, he scored Oscar Wilde's "The Picture of Dorian Gray" which was performed on the West End. The treatment of the text was extremely controversial which was reflected in several negative critiques in 1997. In 1999 Reeves returned to more conventional texts and recorded his oratorio "Becket-The Kiss of Peace". A subsequent performance of this work became the highlight of the Canterbury Festival in 2000. The performance was given under the auspices of HRH Prince Charles and raised funds for the Prince's Trust. The performance featured the choristers of Canterbury Cathedral with the English Chamber Singers, the English Festival Orchestra and soloists including James Bowman, Gillian Keith and David Wilson Johnson. In the critiques Sir David Willcocks wrote as follows: "In the 'Kiss of Peace' the gifted Australian composer, David Reeves has produced a score that judging by the response of the singers and indeed all who heard it when first performed, gave great pleasure and was truly enjoyed. It is a work that appeals to all. Reeves is not afraid to write music that is truly approachable, beautiful and memorable."
Amongst Reeves' many recordings a recent EP release is one featuring highlights from recordings made at Canterbury Cathedral, including a performance of Reeves' "Tuba Tune" performed by the composer.
David Reeves has recently been commissioned to write a work on the subject of St. Francis of Assisi by the organisers of the Assisi Festival of Peace. The work "Planet Requiem" is to be a feature of the Festival in 2008 and is to be performed in the Franciscan Basilica in Assisi Italy, under the baton of the composer.
The musical “James and Maggie” based on the story of J C Williamson the Australian theatrical impresario was highlighted at the Oz Musicals 2006 in Melbourne Australia. It was written with Peter Yeldham in 1991.
He is currently in Australia developing a musical feature film based on “Seven Little Australians” as a joint venture between the UK and Australia.