A performance by Halcyon of a work by Elliot Gyger “From the Hungry Waiting Country “ written for specific voices and harpist,  is another finalist in the prestigious 2011 APRA Art Music Performance of the Year category. The winners are to be announced tonight.

Part of  Halcyon’s 2009 “Extreme Nature” programme, the work brings together Halcyon, harpist Genevieve Lang and conductor Matthew Coorey, in a collaboration where  the harp is an equal voice alongside the four singers.  

Halcyon soprano Alison Morgan comments “During early rehearsals, there were many intricate corners and moments of real difficulty to navigate, but the innate beauty of the music was always present along with the depth of understanding of each of the four voices and the harp. The work is a beautiful fit of the individual colours in each instrument”.

As if the demands of being a solo singer aren’t enough, Morgan says “a performer of contemporary music requires formidable musicianship, impeccable soloistic and ensemble skills and a genuine passion for the music of living composers.

Halcyon works with many different artists, varying its singers and instrumentalists for each programme. Their ensemble in this case featured five talented chamber musicians, each with successful individual careers, who have performed together numerous times.

Halcyon has a longstanding association with Elliott Gyger, drawn from its high regard for his vocal writing. “Elliott’s response to the chosen text is always convincing and absorbing; this is music as finely constructed and deeply layered as a Peter Carey novel, a labour of love by a unique voice in Australian music. We were fortunate to be able to extensively workshop this work with Elliot, before its premiere, so this performance has seen a refinement of accuracy and expressive device that can only be achieved through a mutual understanding between composer and ensemble” says Morgan. 

This empathy between composer and performers has clearly been an asset in realizing this presentation which APRA describes as: “A virtuoso performance with clarity and precision that reached out to the audience. A complex but rewarding piece dependent on excellent time, the performers inhabited the work convincingly”.

Watch out for Halcyon’s recent recording of From the Hungry Waiting Country, due for release in 2011.

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