Tribute printed in the programme for the Corinthian Chamber Orchestra concert on 9th October 2010, at which the David Fletcher Memorial Fund was formally launched.
David Fletcher 1971-2009
Dave Fletcher was a force of nature and had an enormous and charismatic personality. An extraordinarily talented bass player, he was utterly passionate about music and about everyone enjoying music as much as he did. Warm-hearted, unwaveringly loyal, startlingly astute, generous to a fault and mischievous beyond belief, he had the most hilarious sense of humour and infectious giggle I’ve ever encountered, and employed both very frequently indeed. All of us who knew and loved him still miss him terribly.
Born in Stockton-on Tees, Dave studied at the Royal Academy of Music and was Principal Bass of the European Community Youth Orchestra. He was Co-Principal Bass at the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and spent a year as Guest Principal Bass at the Norwegian Opera in Oslo, but declined their offer to stay permanently in favour of returning to the UK as Principal Bass with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic. After six years (during which he was awarded an Associateship by the Royal Academy), Dave decided to come to London where he soon became a busy session and guest Principal player with several orchestras, not least leading ENO’s bass section for their highly-praised production of Peter Grimes in May 2009. He also continued his long association with his dear friend Carwyn Ellis and their Welsh band Colorama, and was excitedly playing with them at Glastonbury just three days before he died.
In October 2007 the CCO was short of a bass player for an imminent concert, and – as occasionally happens – we had decided to hire in a professional player. When I rang Dave he was just packing his bass up in Liverpool’s Philharmonic Hall for the last time, but said that he’d love to come and play. The following weekend, Dave showed up and thrilled the orchestra by providing the most powerful, eloquent and exhilarating bass line to Beethoven 6 and Dvorak 8 that any of us had ever experienced. Over a beer later, he told me what an honour and a joy it had been to play with an orchestra who put so much passion, love and commitment into their playing.
Dave was delighted when Hywel subsequently suggested we ask him to come and play a concerto, and many bottles of red wine were sacrificed in the interests of selecting the best work for the occasion. Characteristically generously, Dave eventually decided that Koussevitsky would be the best choice, on the basis that it was substantially less tedious for the orchestra than the other options (Bottesini, Dragonetti, and Dittersdorf). He was truly thrilled about playing a concerto with Corinthian and was enormously looking forward to it. Tragically, Dave died of a heart attack in his sleep on June 29th 2009. He was 37.
Of his many colleagues in the bass world, Neil Tarlton was the player that Dave most admired. We are incredibly grateful to Neil for so generously stepping in to play the Koussevitsky, and I know that Dave – while hating not being here to play it himself – would have been extremely honoured and flattered to have had such an eminent and illustrious dep.