20 years of Halcyon

As Halcyon celebrates turning 20 this year, Classikon and Limelight have both published Q&As with me recently which gave me a chance to draw together some thoughts about what the last 20 years has taught me.  You can read them by following the links below.

Classikon: Jenny Duck-Chong on 20 years of Halcyon
Limelight: This Kind of Life: Halcyon celebrates 20 years of new music 


Anniversaries give us time to reflect - on particular milestones and achievements as well as celebrating the many great experiences along the way.  20 years ago it was hard to imagine you could pursue a career as a vocal chamber music specialist but a few decades on and there are many more singers exploring a world which was all but unknown here...

Looking back over the last two decades, this year’s performances were a chance to focus on what Halcyon has always done well - devising eclectic programs of the best of here and abroad and performing them with excellent musicians.  Developing relationships has also been a key part of our performing life – with composers, fellow artists, educational institutions, publishing houses, donors and audiences. Reflecting on this history also provided the opportunity to shine a spotlight on some past highlights. Each program planned for this year features something drawn from Halcyon's recorded history, reacquainting audiences with these works or introducing them to those who may not have heard them live before.

this kind of life

Our first concert for the year, This Kind of Life, took place at the Sydney Conservatorium on July 21 and was an opportunity to celebrate 20 years as an ensemble (and to officially launch our two most recent albums featuring Andrew Schultz and Elliott Gyger) but equally it was an acknowledgement of relationships, both old and new, formed with artists and composers and the wider music community over those two decades.

The program featured a new work by longtime colleague, composer Elliott Gyger who is celebrating his 50th birthday this year.  Sharing its title with the concert, This Kind of Life is a song cycle in fifteen movements scored for soprano, mezzo, clarinet, cello, piano and harp. A celebration of food and friendship, the text is drawn from letters between Julia Child and Avis deVoto from first acquaintance to first meeting and concludes with a lyrical instrumental postlude.  The work was commissioned as a surprise birthday gift, a secret we had to keep (for almost two years) until the day of the concert. The concert also featured Australian premieres of works by Belgian composer Annelies Van Parys and Japanese-born Dai Fujikura as well as a couple of luminous works from our our acclaimed 15th birthday album, Kingfisher: Songs for Halcyon.

The eye-catching image of Liquid Crystal DNA by biochemist and photographer Linden Gledhill reminded me of the music we have championed for all these years – when you spend time examining it closely, it too can be surprising, intricate, beautiful and unique.

Several more shows are planned for the year with details coming soon.  In the meantime, lots more live performances are going up on the YouTube archive so you can relive different eras of Halcyon's performing life.  While you’re there you can listen to audio of both live and studio recordings and watch more interviews with composers in our In Conversation With.. series.