Keith Harvey Memorial AwardDear Members of the London Cello Society,

Keith Harvey, our cherished co-founder and marvellous cellist, performer and collector par excellence, passed away three years ago. The Society, in tandem with his family, has launched a fund to provide a commemorative award to young cellists at the start of their professional life.

The family has provided a generous foundational sum and we now seek to raise additional capital funds to assure the Award’s future in service of deserving young cellists.

We invite members, friends and lovers of the cello to support this important ambition with a contribution that could take several forms: a cash gift, a donated bow or a cello which could be converted into a cash donation, a pledge of funds to be gathered on our behalf, or some other form of contribution.

If you prefer to pay via BACS or by cheque, kindly contact the Society here and we will facilitate your donation.

The London Cello Society will hold auditions for the first Award in Spring 2022.  Application is by invitation only and members of the LCS Board as well as other distinguished members of our profession will assist to identify suitable candidates.

The particulars of the Keith Harvey Memorial Award process are as follows:

  1. The Award is biennial and will be open to all cellists residing in the UK under the age of 30 who have concluded a recognised musical degree, diploma course or other form of professional study. Students in full-time or part-time education will not be considered for this Award.
  2. The Award aims to assist in the launch of the recipient’s professional life, for example, to fund a recording or a debut concert, attend a competition, subsidise a musical project, or similar purpose. The intended purpose must be stated in the application.  The value of the Award is £2500.
  3. The adjudicating panel will be appointed by the London Cello Society.
  4. If no suitable candidate presents in a particular year, the adjudicating panel may withhold the Award for that year.
  5. The London Cello Society may invite winners of the Award and participants to appear at future London Cello Society events.
  6. Mentorship will be made available as part of the Award.

Keith Harvey was born in 1938 at Waterloo, near Liverpool, and came from a musical family; both his parents were excellent violinists. His mother Cecilia Ormerod was a member of the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, playing professionally until she was 79! When Keith was nine he fell victim to polio and it was after recovering that he began to learn the cello, studying very enthusiastically with his wonderful teacher Amos Moore and making rapid progress. Aged 15 Keith was awarded first prize at the Blackpool festival, the Liverpool Echo announcing “Cello boy beats all!”.

After studying with Douglas Cameron at the Royal Academy of Music, where he won many prizes including the Suggia Scholarship, Keith became the principal cellist of the London Philharmonic Orchestra at the startlingly young age of 20! He often performed with them in a solo capacity playing works like the Elgar and Haydn D major concertos and memorably a Tchaikovsky Variations in the Festival Hall. In the mid-sixties he was appointed principal cello with the English Chamber Orchestra, working with Benjamin Britten in Aldeburgh, and many other conductors such as Raymond Leppard, Daniel Barenboim, Clifford Curzon, and Murray Perahia.

Around this time Keith participated in Gregor Piatigorsky’s masterclass in California which proved to be an outstanding experience. The Maestro picked him up in his car, and waived any payment, saying it was enough that he had “COME ALL THIS WAY!” In 1967 Keith became a founder member of the Gabrieli Quartet and Ensemble which achieved acclaim throughout the world for many years, generating many enviable recordings.

Meanwhile Keith continued to concertize and broadcast frequently for the BBC as a duo with his wife Meralyn Knight. Keith played solo on many film scores, notably for Carl Davis in the World at War, The French Lieutenant’s Woman and Un Coeur en Hiver, and gaining an Emmy Award for his work in this sphere. In 1971 he was fortunate to acquire a truly superb Montagnana cello which enhanced his reputation for tonal volume and beauty.

Keith had many examining commitments both here and abroad, including the Martin Fund and the Banff Quartet Competition. He also derived great satisfaction from teaching a number of special pupils. The nineties proved a busy recording period producing much of the music Keith later used for his CD Dedications – A Life in Music produced by Michael Ponder, which Sebastian Comberti issued through his label Cello Classics.

It was after meeting Selma Gokcen that Keith’s idea of a Cello Society became established. Their joint involvement has produced a marvellous organisation accounting for many memorable occasions, altogether an important part of Keith Harvey’s legacy and distinctive career.