Halcyon turns 15 this year. To celebrate this momentous occasion, stay tuned for a special event planned for later this year. We will also be uploading many reflections on the past 15 years music making on the site in the coming months - including photos, recordings. blogs and archival programs. Sign up to our facebook page to find out when we've updated. Hope you enjoy learning more about the many wonderful works we've performed and composers we've discovered, befriended and championed as well as hearing and seeing so many of our outstanding fellow artists. It's been a fantastic 15 years.
We have long wanted to produce studio recordings of some of the works we have performed and commissioned over the years so that more people can get to hear and know them, so we are thrilled to announce that the first of a series of digital recordings (no hard copy), entitled Waves 1, has just been released. It features two substantial works - Elliott Gyger’s Petit Testament for soprano, mezzo and piano and Andrew Ford’s Willow Songs for soprano, mezzo, flutes, clarinets, piano and percussion. Our thanks to the wonderful musicians – conductor Mark Shiell, flautist Sally Walker, clarinettist Jason Noble, percussionist John Douglas and pianist Sally Whitwell – for their fine artistry, and to Elliott and Andy for these quintessentially Halcyon works that capture so beautifully the joys and dangerous virtuosity of contemporary vocal writing that we love to perform.
Currently available for digital release at cdbaby you can read more about it here. You can download the tracks separately or buy both for the very reasonable price of $4.99. We will be getting more things up in the coming months so keep checking the website for updates. And tell your friends!
A SENSE OF CONNECTION
Our next Halcyon concert will be a collaborative program with Acacia Quartet - A Sense of Connection - on Friday 31 August. Alongside works by Elena Kats-Chernin, Graham Hair, Osvaldo Golijov and Lyle Chan we are very pleased to be presenting the Australian premiere of Gordon Kerry’s Goodison Quartet #1: Country Music. We first came to know of this work back in 2006 at the Paul Lowin Awards when it was shortlisted as a finalist alongside Elliott Gyger’s From the Hungry Waiting Country, Damien Ricketson’s A Line Has Two and the winning work Rosalind Page’s Sonetos del Amor Oscuro. As it was the only work that we had not performed we felt it was important to get to know it better! We have been discussing a performance of the work for some time and we are delighted to be able to finally present it in this program.
Gordon has had a lot of recognition this year as both Musica Viva’s featured composer in their 2012 season and with his recent opera production with Victoria Opera Midnight Son.
For more details and bookings click here.
HALCYON BROADCAST MAY 14 at 8pm
Missed a performance or just want to hear it again? You can hear our Life on Paper program on ABC Classic FM at 8pm In Performance featuring the Andrew Schultz commission I am writing in this book alongside George Crumb’s Madrigals 1 & 2 and Joseph Schwanter’s Sparrows. This was Halcyon on a larger scale with 11 guest artists alongside Alison and Jenny: David Stanhope conductor Laura Chislett Jones flutes Diana Springford clarinets Alex Norton violin Luke Spicer viola Geoffrey Gartner cello Jenny Druery double bass Zubin Kanga piano Melina van Leewen harp Daryl Pratt percussion Anna Zeltzer percussion
April has been a whirlwind of activity. We’ve featured in two performances - our own Dreams and Dances with Sydney Philharmonia’s youth choir, VOX on April 21 and the Sydney Opera Houses’s Steve Reich: A Celebration alongside Synergy Percussion, Ensemble Offspring and friends on April 29. Thanks to all of you who attended these events. You can read a review of Dreams and Dances by David Gyger here. There were a swathe of reviews of the Reich. You can read a few here, here, here and here. We were thrilled to have the chance to meet and work with the man himself and to perform such an exhilarating work for a full and excited house at the Concert Hall. Here’s a few photos from the events. You’ll find some more photos on the website and facebook soon.
Also in April we recorded material for Roger Dean for his new work for our November program From Afar and produced our annual flyer with all the dates for the year. If you would like us to send you a hard copy of the flyer, please email us at email@example.com and we'll post one out to you. Or you can pick them up from the Australian Music Centre, the Conservatorium or at a New Music Network concert.
May began with an intensive period of classes and workshops on student compositions for our residency at Sydney Grammar School. On May 9 Jenny performed some very new Ross Edwards songs written for her, with Bernadette Harvey (piano) and Claire Edwardes (percussion) as part of a retrospective program of Ross's work, held at the Sydney Conservatorium. This week we begin an engrossing journey when we attend first rehearsals with conductor David Stanhope on George Benjamin’s Into the Little Hill, with Sydney Chamber Opera. Performances of this fabulous and dark little opera are on July 24, 26 and 28 at CarriageWorks.
7.30pm JUNE 2 SMALL WONDERS
The New Hall, Sydney Grammar School, Yurong St, East Sydney
Featuring works for very small forces - combinations of duos and trios only - Small Wonders highlights the talents of each of our wonderful guest artists, cellist Geoffrey Gartner, pianist Jo Allan and flautist Laura Chislett Jones. Alongside George Crumb’s brooding Apparition and Morton Feldman’s ethereal voices and cello, there are works by Kerry Andrew, Giorgio Colombo Taccani, Julian Yu and Nick Vines, a recent work by Katy Abbott and two new works - Lovely How Lives by Moya Henderson and giving voice by Elliott Gyger. These last two works are the small-scale versions of works-in-progress which will be heard next year in their full chamber versions as part of our 15th birthday year program.
Small Wonders is the first of our concerts to be staged in Sydney Grammar’s spectacular New Hall, hewn out of Sydney sandstone. You can read more about the space here.
2012 is off to a flying start. This year's projects will feature collaborations with Synergy, VOX, Sydney Chamber Opera and austraLYSIS as well as our own series of programs.
Preparations are now underway for our last show for 2011 - Sirens at Riversdale. A beautiful location to end the year's hard work.
Life on Paper: We're really excited about how the pieces are coming together and really enjoying both the extraordinary sounds and textures of the pieces and the wonderful artists we are working with. In particular we'd like to welcome our conductor David Stanhope who brings a tremendous wealth of experience to this beautiful program.
Two major events have been keeping us busy behind the scenes for the past couple of months - coordinating our new project First Stones and now gearing up for Life on Paper, our next concert on Sunday Sept 18.
Rehearsals are well underway. We are really looking forward to this concert as it features a premiere of a new commission for Halcyon by Andrew Schultz called I have written in this book, inspired by Sei Shonagon’s The Pillow Book, for a very rich ensemble of soprano, mezzo, cello, double bass, harp, piano and percussion. We’ve met with Andrew a few times since our residency together at Bundanon in March and we’re looking forward to seeing it all come together in performance.
Also on the program are two sets of George Crumb’s evocative Madrigals and a beautiful work of Joseph Schwantner’s called Sparrows, which is a setting of a collection of 15 Haiku by Issa. Both of these also exploit wonderful sonorities. The Madrigals are respectively for voice, flutes and percussion and voice, double bass and percussion and feature fragments of Federico Garcia Lorca poetry – a major source of inspiration for Crumb. Sparrows is the largest in scale with an instrumentation of flute, clarinet, violin, viola, cello, piano, harp and percussion. It even features an instrumentalist choir. So as usual with our programs, expect the unexpected!
For more information and bookings, click here.
July brought workshops for First Stones - 4 days of intensive music-making with the composers, Elliott Gyger and our fellow artists - Diana Springford (clarinets), Geoffrey Gartner (cello), Jo Allan (piano) and Genevieve Lang (harp).
There are a now number of recent blogs about the process online at resonate by the composers Lachlan, Nicole, Pedro, Anastasia, Peggy, Owen, James and Chris as well as earlier ones by Alison and Jenny.
In June, we were in the studio with our Sirens - Belinda Montgomery, Jo Burton and Genevieve Lang - to begin recording Dan Walker's beautiful King Ludwig's Swans, written for us in 2004/09. We hope to have this completed in the next few months to add to our collection of studio-recorded commissions.
May was a full month for us. In mid May we were in Melbourne to present seminars to composers and vocal students at the University of Melbourne, Conservatorium of Music. It was great to interact with so many students and share the music we are so passionate about. We also gave a lunchtime concert at Melba Hall on Monday May 16.
Then on Saturday May 28, as part of our First Stones project, we held seminars for emerging composers and singers in Sydney. A very interactive day with Jenny, Alison and Elliott and a visit from the AMC's General Manager John Davis. More details here. On Sunday 29 we continued the intensive weekend with our 10 participants, Cameron introducing them to the important points of copyright permissions, before we spent the afternoon with Elliott and the composers, workshopping their overnight composition task. Jenny and Alison had 15 new pieces each to sightread for the afternoon! A wonderfully challenging and engaging weekend!
Halcyon is very proud to have been shortlisted in this year's ART MUSIC AWARDS in the Best Performance category for Elliott Gyger's From the Hungry Waiting Country, commissioned for us by the inaugural Aurora Festival and now firmly part of our core repertoire. A wonderful showcase of virtuosity, we are so thankful to the artists - singers Belinda Mongomery & Jo Burton, harpist Genevieve Lang and conductor Matt Coorey - for their fantastic skills, and to Elliott for the intricate, complex, diverse and evocative piece he created for us. Our recently completed studio recording of the work will be available online soon.
We were in Tasmania in April on another artists' retreat, this time with our Sirens - Belinda Montgomery, Jo Burton and Genevieve Lang. It was wonderful to work in such peaceful surroundings (see photo). We could get very used to this way of rehearsing. We were preparing Dan Walker's beautiful King Ludwig's Swans for a recording session soon, as well as working on the final part of Gillian Whitehead's very evocative Nga Haerenga.
We had a wonderful time at Bundanon as AIRs (Artists in Residence) in March. A couple of days working with Andrew Schultz on his new commission (for performance in our September program) and then time together to practice, brainstorm and discuss plans for the future as well as breathe in the beauty and tranquility of the setting. Plannings is well underway now for our 2012 series featuring a number of collaborative projects. More news soon.
Katy Abbott's first chamber music CD, Sunburnt Aftertones, which features Halcyon's commission No Ordinary Traveller, recorded by Halcyon last year, is now available on her site as an album download or via itunes as single tracks. The cycle consists of four songs: No Ordinary Traveller, Ship Life, One Dark Sky and An End That Marks a Start. It has already featured as CD of the week on 3MBS and has received substantial airplay.
Ruth Lee Martin's self produced album, featuring the Wimmera Song Cycle, commissioned last year for our Where the Heart Is program, is now available. Our recording of Elliott Gyger's From the Hungry Waiting Country will also be available soon. This and other works will be online soon for purchase. It gives us great pleasure to record these commissioned Australian works and we are looking forward to the chance to share them with a wider audience.