Originally from Scotland, Heath Lees has based three decades of musical activity around Australia and New Zealand. Emiritus Professor of Music at the University of Auckland, he now travels the world educating people about music, how it works and how we appreciate it.
In 2013 Heath wrote and presented A Tale Told in Music, an essential guide to dramatic understanding of Richard Wagner’s epic Ring of the Nibelung.
Music to Your Ears, his most recent documentary, is a guide to the greater understanding of music in general.
What we hear when we listen to music is, strictly speaking, sound, not music. We, the listeners, are the ones who make the sound into music. We sort out the tune, grasp the effect, order the rhythm, sense the harmonic depth, and recognise the patterns and shapes. The whole process of listening to music is a miraculous one, and human beings are very good at it, even with no formal training.
In Music to Your Ears, Heath gets behind the music and finds out what codes, clues and conventions various song-writers and composers have built into their works to help us in our imaginative task of turning sound into music.
With the aid of many piano illustrations and sound clips, Heath serves up a buoyant brew of musical revelations. He breaks down music into Tune, Rhythm, Harmony and Shape, and demonstrates each of these in action. Finally, as a brilliantly self-contained case-study, he introduces the Seraphim Piano Trio for a dazzling performance of the first movement of Schubert’s Trio No. 1 in B-Flat.