Acclaimed international pianist, Bernadette Harvey, was awarded the Centenary Medal in 2000 by then Australian Prime Minister, John Howard, for her contribution to Australian Music. Bernadettenhas won many accolades since her first medal in a Sydney Eisteddfod at the age of two and a half, including the ABC ‘Young Performer of the Year’ in 1987.
As guest artist since 2009 at the Tucson Winter Chamber Music Festival in Tucson, Arizona, she has worked with such artists as the Tokyo Quartet, the Dover Quartet, the Miró Quartet, Alexander Sitkovetsky, Ani Kavafian, Joseph Lin, Axel Strauss, Antonio Lysy, Paul Coletti, Alan Vogel and David Schifrin. She presented the world premiere of Pierre Jalbert's Piano Quintet with the Jupiter Quartet, which she subsequently recorded in 2019 for the Canadian label Marquis. She also appeared with the Tokyo Quartet and the Shanghai Quartet in the premiere of Carl Vine’s Piano Quintet, Fantasia in 2013. She and the Shanghai Quartet later presented the Australian premiere of the Bright Sheng Piano Quintet, Dance Capriccio.
Ms Harvey is renowned for championing new solo piano works, many of which are recorded on the Tall Poppies label. She has established an ongoing commissioning project called the Sonata Project, the aims of which are to challenge composers to reflect on their attitudes towards this ancient art form and to compose a substantial new work within its generous boundaries. The first three sonatas were composed by three young Australian women – Jane Stanley, Aristea Melos and Melody Eötvos. A subsequent sonata, ‘Ode’ by Peggy Polias - a reflection on the apocalyptic nature of war, was premiered at her performance/collaboration with the British artist Cornelia Parker’s (CBE RA) installation ‘War Room’ at Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art in January 2020 for the Sydney Festival.
Bernadette’s playing has been described by one reviewer as: “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 performs regularly as a Musica Viva Artist in Australia. She has toured nationally with cellist Jian Wang and the Goldner Quartet and many others. Her 2022 tour with Harry Bennetts and Miles Mullin-Chivers received high critical praise and featured the world premiere of a stunning new piano trio by Australian composer, Donald Hollier. Her current research includes performing, recording and digitising the collected piano works of Hollier, including copies of manuscripts which the composer gave to her before his death in 2023. Bernadette has recorded most of the solo piano music of Ross Edwards, one of Australia’s most well-known and loved composers, who wrote his first piano sonata for her and a shorter two movement work, Sea Star Fantasy.
Bernadette has recently joined the Streeton Trio with Emma Jardine, violin and Rachel Siu, cello and the group has already received high praise for its performances in several chamber music festivals in NSW.
Among many fine piano trio ensembles currently playing in this country I think the Streeton are pre-eminent. Last year I wrote that their performance of Brahms’ trio in B major was the best I had ever heard, and here I am in danger of repeating myself about their playing of the Ravel trio. Emma Jardine, the violinist, leads with immediacy, strength and daring, and cellist Rachel Siu is an utterly reliable partner. The pianist, Bernadette Harvey, was simply astounding. She launched herself into Ravel’s phenomenal difficulties with an infectious sense of fun and play that responded to Emma Jardine’s lead, in spades, and drew the audience into the sphere of electric energy that the Streeton trio’s whole performance exuded. (Nicholas Routley, Australian Stage, April 2023)