Renowned for “immaculately prepared and impressively detailed vocal performances”, in the past decade Halcyon has commissioned and premiered over twenty new vocal chamber works, a significant contribution to the chamber music catalogue. Our recent focus has been to record these wonderful and diverse pieces for commercial distribution - we want to get this music out into the world!
We'll be releasing new recordings in 'waves', so watch out for more to come.
Waves I is Halcyon's first release of studio recordings and features two Australian works - Elliott Gyger's Petit Testament (2008) for soprano, mezzo and piano and Andrew Ford's Willow Songs (2009) for soprano, mezzo, flute/piccolo/alto flute, clarinet/bass clarinet, percussion and piano.
GYGER: Alison Morgan soprano Jenny Duck-Chong mezzo soprano Sally Whitwell piano
FORD: Mark Shiell conductor Alison Morgan soprano Jenny Duck-Chong mezzo soprano Sally Walker flutes Jason Noble clarinets John Douglas percussion Sally Whitwell piano
Recorded at Trackdown Scoring Stage Sydney September 2009 & May 2011. Engineered, mixed and mastered by Daniel Brown.
Petit Testament (2008) - Elliott Gyger
Petit Testament, the last of the Ern Malley poems, is intimate and autobiographical in tone, at times veering perilously close to confessing the bogus nature of the author's identity. My setting re-enacts James McAuley's and Harold Stewart's dazzling feat of ventriloquism (two real poets masquerading as one fictional poet) in employing two voices to project a single musical line, slipping unpredictably between unison, heterophony and interior dialogue. The pitch material is derived from musical ciphers of the three poets' names. Coincidentally, my cipher for "Ern Malley" – spelled out by the accompaniment at the very beginning – uses only the notes of a pentatonic scale (Pelog) strongly associated with Indonesian gamelan music, a common trope in the self-conscious quest for Australian musical identity in the 1960s and 1970s. (Elliott Gyger)
Willow Songs (2009) - Andrew Ford
I discovered Anne Stevenson's poetry only when her collection Poems 1955–2005 came out. There were quite a few that I felt might sound well sung. 'Willow Song', in particular, seemed to be there on the page just waiting for its tune. Of the other poems that struck me, several were about women at different points in their lives. I decided to make a group of these to form the main body of the work, before finishing with 'Willow Song' itself. The obvious strategy was to begin with the poem about the 12- year-old girl and then arrange the others in ascending order of age. But I thought this might be too obvious (and anyway I'd done precisely that in my song cycle Learning to Howl). So I reversed the order and opted to begin with the wildness and energy of the 'cold woman' in her 'cold sea'. Adding the little 'Epigraph' was an afterthought, though it comes first.
Willow Songs was commissioned by Halcyon, with generous financial support from Barbara Blackman. (Andrew Ford)
Other Halcyon studio recordings can be found on the following albums: Cool Black: The Chamber Music of Rosalind Page (all Halcyon), Sunburnt Aftertones by Katy Abbott (featuring No Ordinary Traveller by Halcyon) and A Vision of Wildflowers: The Music of Ruth Lee Martin (featuring Wimmera Song Cycle by Halcyon).