Chamber vocal ensemble Halcyon has a new project underway. Kingfisher, Songs for Halcyon is a seminal commissioning project to celebrate and indeed commemorate 15 years of music making by Australia’s leading ensemble for contemporary vocal chamber music.
In the decade and a half since its inception, Halcyon has undertaken performing, commissioning, recording and maintained a strong presence in the Australian new music scene. Halcyon’s Artistic Director, soprano Alison Morgan says “During this time we’ve presented more than 30 different programs as well as appearing in festivals, on tour and in education programs and seminars. Halcyon is very proud of the programs we’ve presented over the years, which have introduced some rarely heard but fantastic music to our audiences. And we’re richer for the performers and composers we’ve come to know as we’ve immersed ourselves in this music together, working alongside almost 100 players as well as established ensembles. These years of performing have featured more than 60 Australian works, more than 110 international works, over 20 commissions, 35 world premieres and at least 40 Australian premieres. Exhausting but exhilarating when you look at it this way!”
As a result of the Kingfisher project, there will be a significant expansion in just one year, of the existing performance repertoire for singer and small ensemble. Importantly, the project will also generate a Halcyon legacy that will include two live concert performances and the Kingfisher CD and Songbook.
For Kingfisher, Halcyon has commissioned songs by 23 of Australia’s most respected composers, some of whom have had close connections with the ensemble over many years. Each of these composer has been selected for their unique ability to write for singers and for their important contribution to Australian vocal repertoire. Alison Morgan says” We’re delighted and humbled that so many of our favourite composers have, without hesitation, agreed to join us for this exciting venture.” The composers include Katy Abbott, Gerard Brophy, Nigel Butterley, Ross Edwards, Andrew Ford, Stuart Greenbaum, Elliott Gyger, Moya Henderson, Gordon Kerry, Raffaele Marcellino, Rosalind Page, John Peterson, Andrew Schultz, Paul Stanhope, Nicholas Vines and Dan Walker.
Joining Alison Morgan in performing in Kingfisher, are mezzo soprano Jenny Duck-Chong, flautist Laura Chislett Jones, clarinettist Diana Springford, cellist Geoffrey Gartner and percussionist Joshua Hill.
Halcyon directors Alison Morgan and Jenny Duck-Chong have challenged the composers to put aside that symphony, pause the all-consuming opera and turn inwards for a while; it’s time to think small and write a song. The theme is ‘halcyon’, which can encompass all meanings of the word, from the legendary bird that calms the stormy waters, to the ocean and its moods, to an ensemble that explores new and rarely heard music!