Kingfisher – Songs for Halcyon … has expanded significantly the repertoire of contemporary Australian song, leaving an enduring gift for the future.

In 2013, Kingfisher, Songs for Halcyon was born - a seminal commissioning project to celebrate 15 years of music making by Australia’s leading ensemble for vocal chamber music.

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Through the commissioning of 21 songs gifted to Halcyon by some of Australia’s most gifted vocal composers, Halcyon has contributed significantly to the existing repertoire available for singer and small ensemble in this diverse collection, not only expanding the quantity of Australian vocal chamber music available for performance but also creating an important legacy.

This is a beguiling sampler of recent Australian music and a testament to 15 years of Halcyon music-making.


A tailored presentation which focuses on selected works from the 21 pieces commissioned for the project.  
Requirements: projection and audio capabilities.

These short songs provide excellent study material to look at the diversity of contemporary vocal writing by a wealth of  Australian composers and an excellent overview of vocal and ensemble writing, text setting and performance practicalities.  

Suitable for:

  • secondary music or composition students and their teachers or tertiary composition students.

Recording & Performance

Halcyon directors Alison Morgan and Jenny Duck-Chong asked the composers to write a short (less than 4 minute) chamber song, using a limited instrumental palette, and inspired by the word 'halcyon'. Encompassing all meanings of the word, it could range from the legendary bird that was said to calm the stormy waters, to the ocean and its moods, to the exploration new and rarely heard music itself.

Kingfisher, Songs for Halcyon contains songs by Katy Abbott, Stephen Adams, Nigel Butterley, Sharon Calcraft, Ross Edwards, Andrew Ford, Stuart Greenbaum, Elliott Gyger, Graham Hair, Moya Henderson, Gordon Kerry, Raffaele Marcellino, Kevin March, Rosalind Page, John Peterson, Andrew Schultz, Paul Stanhope, Jane Stanley, Nicholas Vines, Dan Walker and Gillian Whitehead.

Each of these composers were chosen for their unique voice in writing for singers and for their important contribution to Australian vocal repertoire to date. We’re delighted and humbled that so many of our favourite composers, without hesitation, agreed to join us for this exciting project.

A selection of these songs were previewed on 23 October, 2013 at the Museum of Contemporary Art, and the complete collection of songs was premiered across two separate twilight programs at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music on March 15 and 29, 2014.

Each of the 21 works was then recorded and released by Tall Poppies on Kingfisher - Songs for Halcyon (TP236) in November 2015.

Artists involved in the project:
Alison Morgan soprano, Jenny Duck-Chong mezzo soprano, Laura Chislett Jones flutes, Jason Noble clarinets, Geoffrey Gartner cello, Jess Ciampa, Josh Hill & William Jackson percussion



Stuart Greenbaum Opalescence
Katy Abbott Follow me through shadow
Moya Henderson I lost a world the other day
Nicholas Vines A King’s Manifesto
Raffaele Marcellino Turbulent Passions Calm
Paul Stanhope My love in her attire
John Peterson See the prismatic colours...
Ross Edwards The Tranquil Mind
Elliott Gyger The Pleiades at Midnight
Stephen Adams Sometimes snow fell...
Kevin March Sea-blue bird
Andrew Ford To My Excellent Lucasia, on our Friendship
Jane Stanley Round the Bay
Gillian Whitehead All One Water
Dan Walker The Mystic Blue
Nigel Butterley Nature Changes at the Speed of Life
Gordon Kerry Music (La Musique)
Andrew Schultz Lake Moonrise
Sharon Calcraft Verathmende, Schillernde, Blitzende...
Rosalind Page Aquila's Wing
Graham Hair All About Anna

Composer Interviews

For a full list of composer interview clips, see the playlist on our YouTube channel.