David Keeffe

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David Keeffe

David Keeffe, Composer

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At age 6, David Keeffe met Benjamin Britten, and shook his hand. Perhaps it was inevitable that he would eventually become a composer, too.

David photo

David was born into a musical family in London but has called Melbourne home since 1997.

He attended Dulwich College, an English Public School founded by Edward Alleyn, one of Shakespeare's leading men, and well-known for its music and drama, and then went to Trinity College of Music where he studied composition with John Tavener and horn with John Burden.

After a move to the University of York to continue his composition work, he developed an interest in computers and their musical applications, while continuing to play the horn and to conduct. David was for a while the conductor of the university Gilbert and Sullivan Society, and of the York Philharmonic Male Voice Choir and principal horn with the York Guildhall Orchestra, where he also performed Richard Strauss' Horn Concerto no 2.

The interest in computers was such that David “crossed the floor” and undertook postgraduate study in computer science, leading to a doctorate in that discipline, and a continuing career.

In 1997 David took an opportunity to live and and work in Australia with his family. As they started their own musical journey, a stream of new works appeared, initially for brass, and especially for horn, and then for other ensembles. Opportunities from community and educational groups increased his motivation, with workshops and performances from Oakleigh City Band, Maroondah Symphony Orchestra, the Grainger Wind Symphony and Melbourne Youth Music's MYO and MYSB, all of whose support is gratefully acknowledged.

In 2006 David re-sat the FTCL examination in Horn Performance (which he failed in London!) and included two of his own works. He passed!

Also in 2006 David won the prize for “The Eleventh Day” a new slow march for brass band at the Melbourne International Festival of Brass, and was a finalist for the quick march with “Emerald Hill”. That inspired him to return to study, and in 2010 completed his Master of Music in composition at the University of Melbourne, working primarily with Julian Yu.

In one of the earliest “Live at the Convent” programs on 3MBS, David's Octet for Horns was premièred live to air. Subsequently his “Four Haiku” for tenor and piano were broadcast in the same series.

Recently, David has had works played by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, the Defence Force School of Music Band, the Grainger Wind Symphony and the Guildhall School of Music Horn Choir.

A recent work is “The Undone Years”, a saxophone concerto written for Jason Xanthoudakis at his invitation, and continues a fascination with the poetry of Wilfred Owen. Unusually it exists in two forms – one, subtitled “Fire”, uses a string orchestra, piano and timpani, while the other - “Flood” - is scored for symphonic band. While the basic music structure is the same, the mood and effect of each version is quite different. The composer likens “Fire” to an engraving, and “Flood” to a painting in acrylics.

David Keeffe can be seen regularly as a performer with groups in Melbourne as conductor, horn player and soloist.

Last Updated on Monday, 22 August 2011 09:12