Regarded as a leading exponent in the field of new music, Halcyon presents stunning performances of vocal chamber music from around the world, with a special emphasis on Australian composition. Co-founded by soprano Alison Morgan and mezzo soprano Jenny Duck-Chong and now directed by Jenny, Halcyon has showcased many rarely heard international works and premiered new offerings from some of Australia’s most esteemed composers.
Since 1998 these ‘new music champions’ have performed on grand and small stages, in grand houses, art galleries, recital halls, at music industry events and music festivals, collaborating with numerous outstanding artists and ensembles and forging connections across the globe with composers, music centres and institutions.
Beyond the concert stage, Halcyon has been active as a mentor for young artists, composers and ensembles. For almost ten years they have presented concerts and workshops focusing on vocal writing and contemporary Australian song repertoire to composition and vocal students at secondary and tertiary levels and have been guest artists and mentors for younger ensembles, assisting in the creation of many more new works for voice and instruments. In 2011, Halcyon launched its inaugural emerging composer’s project, First Stones, with the assistance of composer/mentor Elliott Gyger. Over a six month period, featuring a weekend seminar, a week long workshop, individual mentoring and final rehearsals, it culminated in a showcase of nine new works at Sydney Conservatorium.
Since 2006, Halcyon has also produced a series of studio recordings, showcasing Australian composers and commissions, to make this intimate music accessible to a wider audience. Recently acclaimed CDs include their self-released EP’s Waves I and Waves II and Tall Poppies release Kingfisher – Songs for Halcyon (TP236), featuring 21 new works commissioned to celebrate 15 years of Halcyon in 2013.
Past highlights include a performance with Synergy Percussion of Steve Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians at the Opera House in the presence of the composer and of Reich’s Drumming as part of Synergy’s 40th birthday celebrations. 2014 highlights included presenting 21 new commissions from the Kingfisher project, the premiere of two more commissioned works: Moya Henderson’s Lovely How Lives and Elliott Gyger’s award-winning giving voice; and the reprisal of Nigel Butterley's Mysteria Orphei and Rosalind Page's Hrafnsöngvar. 2015 highlights included premieres of the Halcyon-commissioned A Feast of Lanterns II by Larry Sitsky and Paradise by Andrew Schultz, concert programs featuring new and recent works by Ross Edwards, and War Letters in November featuring four works commissioned by composers of four different generations plus studio recordings including the entire War Letters program.
In 2016-17 with the help of generous sponsors and support, Halcyon will be returning to the studio to record new works and commissions by Larry Sitsky, Ross Edwards, Andrew Schultz, Elliott Gyger and Matthew Hindson. CDs due for release are War Letters through Wirripang and the third of Halcyon’s self-releases, Waves III, featuring commissioned works by Nigel Butterley and Raffaele Marcellino. Halcyon will also be working with Masters students at the Sydney Conservatorium on the creation of new vocal chamber works and presenting diverse programs in old and new spaces.