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 content. Artistic directors and singers Jenny Duck-Chong and Alison Morgan direct the popular and acclaimed Halcyon concert series, showcasing many rarely heard international works and premiering new offerings from some of Australia's most esteemed composers, including Nigel Butterley, Andrew Ford, Elliott Gyger, Andrew Schultz, Raffaele Marcellino, Rosalind Page and Nicholas Vines. With the help of generous sponsors, Halcyon is currently recording many of these works for commercial release.
In recent years the ensemble has performed at the Aurora Festival in Western Sydney, the Four Winds Festival, the House Music series (Government House Sydney), the Canberra International Chamber Music Festival and in the highly successful collaborative presentation of Tehillim at City Recital Hall and Melbourne Recital Centre as well as presenting concerts in Sydney, Melbourne and Armidale. Halcyon has performed at the annual Peggy Glanville Hicks Address, at the AMC/APRA Classical Music Awards and at the Paul Lowin Awards, where its commission Sonetos del amor oscuro by Rosalind Page won the prestigious Song Cycle prize. In its mentorship role, Halcyon has presented concerts and workshops focusing on vocal writing and contemporary Australian repertoire to secondary and tertiary composition students at Victorian College of the Arts, The University of Melbourne, The University of Western Sydney, The Australian National University, St Andrew’s Cathedral School and Radford College; last year Halcyon was guest ensemble with Kammerklang, a young composer’s project directed by Cameron Lam.
In 2011 Halcyon launched its inaugural emerging composer’s project, First Stones, which culminated in a showcase of the new works at Sydney Conservatorium. As well last year, Halcyon was a finalist in the APRA/AMC Art Music Awards in the Performance of the Year category for its acclaimed performance of Elliott Gyger’s From the Hungry Waiting Country. In 2012, Halcyon presented another diverse series of concerts at Sydney Grammar School and joined Synergy for a performance of Steve Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians at the Opera House in the presence of the composer. 2013 is Halcyon’s 15th birthday and amongst the celebrations the ensemble will launch Kingfisher, a project to mark this special occasion, with commissions by 22 Australian composers.
Soprano Alison Morgan is one of Australia's foremost interpreters of contemporary vocal music. In a career spanning over twenty years she has performed as a soloist with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, The Australian Ballet, Pinchgut Opera, The Song Company, Ensemble Offspring, Synergy and Cantillation, with whom she has featured in numerous recording projects including ABC Classics. Among her many projects, Alison has appeared at the Four Winds Festival, the Canberra International Chamber Music Festival and on tour with Musica Viva and has performed regularly at industry events, including the APRA/AMC Arts Music Awards and the Peggy Glanville Hicks Address.
As co-artistic director of acclaimed new music ensemble Halcyon, Alison has been instrumental in commissioning and performing a wealth of new Australian chamber music, most recently premiering the works of Australian composers Katy Abbott, Nigel Butterley, Nicholas Vines, Elliott Gyger, Andrew Ford and Andrew Schultz. Her international repertoire includes the virtuosic works of Kaija Saariaho, Harrison Birtwistle, George Crumb, Unsuk Chin, Trevor Wishart and Steve Reich. In 2013 Halcyon will revisit a selection of Australian commissions, premiere Raffaelle Marcellino’s new work A Strange Kind of Paradise and celebrate its 15th year with Kingfisher, a ground-breaking chamber song project to commission 22 songs by some of Australia’s finest composers.
Mezzo soprano Jenny Duck-Chong has established herself as a versatile and intelligent musician and is sought after by Sydney's finest vocal ensembles. She has performed as both soloist and ensemble singer with Pinchgut Opera, The Song Company and Cantillation.
Renowned for her dramatic portrayals of tragic heroines, such as Purcell’s Dido, Monteverdi’s Arianna and Britten’s Phaedra, as well as her formidable performances of contemporary works such as Ligeti’s Síppal, Dobbal, Nahigedüvel, Macmillan’s Raising Sparks, Benjamin’s Upon Silence and Berio’s Folksongs, she has been a featured soloist with ensembles as varied as the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Sydney Philharmonia Choirs, Sydney Baroque, Ensemble Offspring, the Renaissance Players and the Kevin Hunt Jazz Trio.
Performance highlights include Bach’s Christmas Oratorio with Jane Glover and the Sydney Philharmonia Choirs and Orchestra, Gubaidulina’s Now Always Snow with Reinbert de Leeuw, the Sydney Symphony and Cantillation and Berio’s Sinfonia with Kevin Field, the Song Company and the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra in Malaysia and numerous performances of Steve Reich’s Tehillim in Sydney, Bermagui and Melbourne.
Active in the field of new music, she is the co-founder of Halcyon, with whom she has premiered numerous Australian and international works by both acclaimed and emerging composers including Anne Boyd, Nigel Butterley, Ross Edwards, Graham Hair, Elliott Gyger, Rosalind Page, Gillian Whitehead, Kaija Saariaho, Michael Berkeley, Michael Finnissy, Gabriel Erkoreka, Sally Beamish and Kerry Andrew. She has featured as a soloist for ABC Classics and Walsingham as well as in several film and TV scores and numerous other recordings with Pinchgut Opera, Cantillation, the Song Company and Halcyon’s own recordings.
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