Bernadette Harvey’s career as a pianist commenced early when she won her first medal in the Sydney Eisteddfod at the age of two and a half. She went on to win the ABC ‘Young Performer of the Year’ and performed in recitals and as a soloist with all the Australian Symphony Orchestras, presenting eight different piano concertos. In 2000, Bernadette was awarded a Centenary Medal by the then Australian Prime Minister, John Howard, for her contributions to Australian Music.
She also received the Australian Music Centre’s award for the Promotion of Australian Music as well as the Best Performance of an Australian Composition in 2001 as part of Australian Virtuosi.
Ms Harvey’s recent appearances in the US include the 2015 Tucson Winter Chamber Music Festival where she performed with the Prazak Quartet, Joseph Lin, Axel Strauss and others. She followed the festival with a series of solo recitals at the University of Arizona, Indiana University and the Eastman School of Music in which she gave the US premier of Australian composer, Ross Edwards first solo piano sonata written for. Her performance in Indiana was reviewed as “nothing less than spectacular” (Peter Jacobi, The Herald Times, March 27 2015). Her recent national tour for Musica Viva with Chinese cellist, Jian Wang drew praise from critics and audiences around Australia – “Wang and Harvey delivered an impassioned performance…they balanced reflection with muscular strength. Sustaining excellent dynamic control [and] sensitive cantabile phrasing and resonant sonorities… Harvey’s fingers swam assuredly through the dense textural currents [and] cascades of notes were dispatched with flair.” (Murray Black, The Australian, July 4, 2013).
Bernadette has been a guest artist at the Tucson Winter Chamber Music Festival in Tucson, Arizona, many times since 2009. She has worked with such artists as Ani Kavafian, Joseph Lin, Antonio Lysy, Paul Coletti and Alan Vogel. In March, 2012 she presented the world premiere of
Pierre Jalbert’s piano quintet, “Secret Alchemy”, and performed with the Tokyo Quartet. Carl Vine’s Piano Quintet, Fantasia, was premiered by her in 2013 with the Shanghai Quartet in Tucson and again in Australia for the Melbourne Festival in October 2013. She and the Shanghai Quartet presented the Australian premiere of the Bright Sheng Piano Quintet, Dance Capriccio at this same festival. Bernadette also performed with American clarinetist, David Schifrin at his Phoenix Chamber Music Festival in 2012. She performs regularly for Musica Viva Australia, her most recent appearances being on a national tour with Chinese cellist, Jian Wang and at the 2014 Huntington Festival.
Bernadette maintains her work as a soloist, recently performing with the Auckland Philharmonic and Christopher Seaman(Rachmaninov’s Paganini Variations) and the West Australian Symphony Orchestra with Simone Young (Messiaen’s Concert a Quatre). She has had several new works written for her, including the Piano Concerto, Rubia by Melbourne composer Tim Dargaville which she premiered in Melbourne in 2003 with the Academy of Melbourne Orchestra. Through assistance form the Australia Council for the Arts and the Freshwater Festival of Chamber Music, Bernadette has commissioned five new solo piano sonatas by Australian composers, Matthew Hindson, Melody Eötvös, Jane Stanley, Aristea Mélos and Tim Dargaville scheduled for recording in early 2016. Acclaimed Australian composer, Ross Edwards, composed a new solo piano sonata for Bernadette in 2011 and together with his Night Songs and Mantras, Carl Vine’s Piano Sonata 1 and Anne Landa Preludes, has just completed its world premiere recording for release in 2015 under the Tall Poppies label. Her recent solo performance in Perth elicited the following critique: “Gifted with a rare physical control of the instrument and intellectual and interpretative qualities to match…dispatched with a Horowitz-like virtuosity…blisteringly virtuosic…It drew me to the edge of my seat.” (Neville Cohn, West Australian).
Bernadette is a core member of the Sydney Soloists (consisting of the principal wind and string players from the Sydney Symphony Orchestra) and is enjoying a busy schedule as a duo performer, working with Diana Doherty, Sara Macliver, Claire Edwardes and Natsuko Yoshimoto.
Bernadette frequently appears on Sunday Live, most recently with Claire Edwardes in June 2013 and Zoltan Szabo, 2012 and has enjoyed collaborations with Michael Kieran Harvey (Australian Virtuosi), the New Zealand String Quartet, Emily Beynon and many others. Bernadette performed to critical acclaim at the 2008 Huntington Festival both as a soloist - performing Alternating Current by American composer Kevin Puts - and as collaborator, most notably with international cellist Jian Wang performing the Brahms cello sonatas. Other regular festival appearances include the Australian Festival of Chamber Music, Castlemaine Festival, Victoria, the TURA Festival, Perth, Four Winds and Aurora, amongst others.
In 2009 Bernadette performed Stockhausen’s Kontakte in Perth, Brisbane and the Sydney Opera House with Percussionist Claire Edwardes to critical acclaim. These performances came on the back of performances of Harrison Birtwistle’s Axe Manual for the same combination at the Australian Festival of Chamber Music and the Aurora Festival. Bernadette enjoys the challenge presented by such complex works and collaborations. As Artistic Director of her own Freshwater Chamber Music Festival, she regularly commissions new works by Australian and overseas composers.
Following early studies in Australia Bernadette traveled to Canada, England and France studying for a short time with Robert Silverman and Cecile Ousset. After a brief return home, she won several overseas scholarships and two Australia Council Grants, which provided the means for further study in the USA. Bernadette studied with Nelita True and was her Teaching Assistant at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY and graduated with a Masters and Doctor of Musical Arts.
As a Fellow of the Tanglewood Summer Music Festival she studied with such musicians as Henri and Genevieve Dutilleux, Gil Kalish, Reinbert de Leeuw and Julius Levine. She went on to teach at the New England Conservatory and the Longy School of Music in Boston and Cambridge, Massachussets.
After winning various prizes in numerous international competitions, Bernadette returned to Australia where she was immediately offered the Artistic Directorship of the 1997 Australian Women’s Music Festival. Currently, she is Lecturer in Piano and Piano Pedagogy at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. Apart from her activities as a performer, Bernadette is researching into the area of injury preventive keyboard technique, encouraging her students to form healthy practice habits and ensuring them a long and happy career with their instrument.
Copyright © Bernadette Harvey 2017. All Rights Reserved.