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Halcyon Presents Autobiochemistry

December 8, 2022 @ 7:00 pm

Halcyon presents the world premiere of Elliott Gyger’s Autobiochemistry (2019), a new 13-movement work scored for voice and cello, each one named for a different chemical element. This piece which won the prestigious 2022 Paul Lowin Song Cycle Prize is the fruit of a many years of collaborative practice and is the composer’s seventh work for Halcyon since 2006.

Also on the program is the Australian premiere of British composer Nicola Lefanu’s The Tongue and the Heart (2008), inspired by newly written love lyrics by John Fuller, and Swedish composer Madeleine Isaksson’s Blad över blad (2000/2019), which Halcyon premiered 2019.

A chameleonic and tenacious ensemble, Halcyon has sought out and commissioned an eclectic variety of vocal chamber music since its inception in 1998, in a desire to share with audiences extraordinary and rarely heard works. Musicians and composers are hand-picked for each new project.

Artistic Director, mezzo-soprano Jenny Duck-Chong, is joined in Halcyon’s final 2023 performance by two stellar performers, soprano Jane Sheldon and cellist Rosanne Hunt. Both artists work across a range of media and styles. Highly active as both a performer and composer, this year alone Jane Sheldon has won Work of the Year (Dramatic) at the 2022 Art Music Awards, performed with Sydney Chamber Opera in productions in Holland, Canberra and Sydney and released a new solo album, I am a tree, I am a mouth. Renowned Melbourne cellist Rosanne Hunt used one of the recent lockdowns to record Elliott Gyger’s virtuosic solo cello work, Shifting, for Forest Collective. She is sought after by leading state and national ensembles and orchestras on modern and period cello and was a founding member of both ELISION and the Melbourne Baroque Orchestra.

Elliott Gyger says “When Jenny Duck-Chong asked me to write for mezzo-soprano and cello, I had a fairly immediate idea of the kind of text I needed: something personal, intimate and conversational, and probably fairly contemporary in idiom and viewpoint. In the absence of anything to hand that quite fit the description, I visited a bookshop in Carlton and browsed the shelves of new poetry, where a slim volume entitled Autobiochemistry caught my eye. The author, Sydney poet Tricia Dearborn, was new to me, but I was immediately intrigued by the concept – a cycle of poems on the chemical elements and their intersection with human experience, both universal and particular – as well as by the clarity, freshness and honesty of Dearborn’s writing.”

Read our review of Halcyon’s album Waves III.

Image: Liquid Crystal DNA © Linden Gledhill




Summer Hill Church
2, Henson Street
Summer Hill, NSW 2130 Australia
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