For more than two decades, Halcyon has proved its credentials as an educator and mentor, with a willingness to share their vast experience and to engage and interact with audiences, composers, students and teachers alike in residencies, composer workshops and other projects. Halcyon now offers a series of educational presentations about the voice and contemporary vocal repertoire suitable for young composers or singers, music students and their teachers. Each seminar is able to be used in conjunction with practical workshops or as astand alone presentation.

On this page you’ll find details of these presentations, some specific educational projects and other free resources to explore.  Further presentations  or practical workshops could also be developed to focus on other specific works from Halcyon’s repertoire or to explore particular areas of interest in more detail.

All these presentations are given by artistic director, Jenny Duck-Chong and require audio and projection capabilities.  Handout or PDF material will also be provided. Other presentations or practical workshops may also be developed in consultation.

Contact us to start a conversation.

Masterclasses and tuition

Halcyon offers masterclasses for tertiary students of singing or composition to hone pieces for performance.  

Halcyon’s artistic director Jenny Duck-Chong is now offering private tuition for composers keen to hone their vocal writing. Contact us for more information.


Writing for the voice - What do composers really need to know?

  • I. An introduction to contemporary vocal writing

  • II. Further explorations

A presentation in one or two parts.  Part I includes an outline of the vocal instrument and its abilities, techniques for good vocal writing and common mistakes, and, through score and audio example, a overview of a range of contemporary vocal repertoire illustrating the diversity of effective text setting and ensemble considerations

Possible topics to be covered in Part II:  the trained voice and its physiology; the voice as an instrument in chamber music; why range is not the only question; text: how it can be used, why it matters, choices and consequences; performability; collaboration between composer and performer

Suitable for:

  • Secondary music or composition students and their teachers and tertiary compositions students.  Can be combined with various scales of practical workshops for student compositions. See First Stones

How to approach a score - A performer’s perspective

This seminar gives a brief introduction to the voice as an instrument and then looks at approaches to text, vocal writing, notation and ensemble matters in vocal chamber music with many score and audio examples of Australian contemporary vocal works from Halcyon’s repertoire. Explores the complementary ideas of a composer’s intent and a performer's role in interpretation.  How clear is a composer’s intent? And what does a performer bring to a piece as an interpreter?

Suitable for:

  • Secondary music or composition students and their teachers and tertiary compositions students who wish to approach  contemporary scores from a different perspective and discover a range of new repertoire and personal insights from a performer of many years experience.

  • Also suitable for younger singers and their teachers seeking to explore this area of repertoire.

A snapshot of contemporary vocal repertoire (and the benefits of working with living composers)

  • I. for voice and piano

  • II. for voice and chamber ensemble

An overview of a diverse range of repertoire including handpicked examples of contemporary repertoire and  discussion of relevant Halcyon commissions.

Can include discussion of what skills are required to work in this field  Can focus exclusively on Australian or commissioned material or a more global perspective.  

Suitable for:

  • Secondary or tertiary students or teachers of singing or composition.  


Kingfisher: Songs for Halcyon
A tailored presentation which focuses on selected works from the 21 pieces commissioned for the project.  Read more.

War Letters
An interactive presentation which focuses on four newly-commissioned works setting the words of everyday Australians during WWI. Read more.

First Stones and other practical composition projects
A range of smaller composition projects for adult composers, secondary and tertiary students with and without ensemble. Read more.

In Conversation With

Meet great Australian composers of vocal music and hear insights into their work in their own words

Archival Footage

Performance footage, recordings and more uploaded from the vaults on our Youtube channel


In June 2017, Jenny Duck Chong presented at the ASME Composition day for High School Music Teachers from the perspective of a performer who has commissioned new works and worked closely with Australian Composers. Teachers were thoroughly engaged with her insights. Spicing her talk with examples of work commissioned by Halcyon, Jenny discussed the ways in which performers and composers can collaborate.
— Associate Professor Anne Power, (Vice Chair ASME, NSW)
As well as possessing a highly developed set of technical skills for realizing challenging new music, Jenny and Halcyon always operate from the assumption that every work – whether from an established international figure or a relatively inexperienced early-career composer – demands the same level of care and attention, and has the potential to be a vehicle for a telling expressive statement.
— Elliott Gyger, Composer and educator