Haunting travels with Halcyon on ‘The Journeys’


After a brief hiatus during the early part of 2013, new music vocal ensemble Halcyon is back in collaboration with the New Music Network to present The Journeys.

The concert features two major works,  performed by female voices, harp, narrator and percussion with projected images and silhouettes by visual media artist Michael Bates.  The two hauntingly beautiful works are themed around journeying – actual, mythical, legendary, allegorical, solitary.

Raffaelle Marcellino’s A Strange Kind of Paradise is a project which has been some years in the making. Completed just this year, it is a response to Monteverdi’s famous aria Lasciatemi morire, the one remnant of his opera Arianna. Based on the myth of Ariadne, and with text by contemporary Australian poet Jordie Albiston, Marcellino’s new work explores the melancholy of abandonment and the uncanny respite achieved from no longer having the torment of others present – a strange kind of paradise.

Composed in 2000, Gillian Whitehead’s epic Nga Haerenga was last performed by Halcyon in 2006 and makes a welcome return to the stage. Translated from the Maori as ‘journeys’, Nga Haerenga tells stories about Kuniya, the Woman python tirelessly travelling through the arid centre of Australia, Kupe canoeing to discover Aotearoa (New Zealand) and Shackleton’s epic voyage across the Antarctic culminating in the destruction of his ship, the Endeavour, crushed by ice. Voices and percussion evoke the soundscape of each journey; birds, seals, penguins, the cracking of the ice as the ship succumbs to its end. This exceptional work comes to a profound close with the 9th century Latin poem ‘Clangam Filii, an allegorical journey of the soul.

Regarded as a leading exponent in the field of new music, Halcyon presents highly regarded performances of vocal chamber music from around the world, with a special emphasis on Australian content. Artistic directors and singers Jenny Duck-Chong and Alison Morgan direct the popular and acclaimed Halcyon concert series, showcasing many rarely heard international works and premiering new offerings from some of Australia’s most esteemed composers, including Nigel Butterley, Andrew Ford, Elliott Gyger, Andrew Schultz, Katy Abbott, Rosalind Page and Nicholas Vines. Recently, Halcyon performs regularly at festivals and concert series around the nation, and presented a very successful collaborative performance of Steve Reich’s Tehillim at Sydney’s City Recital Hall and the Melbourne Recital Centre. Halcyon has also performed at the Peggy Glanville Hicks Address, the AMC/APRA Classical Music Awards and the Paul Lowin Awards. In 2011 Halcyon launched its inaugural emerging composer’s project, First Stones, which culminated in a showcase of 9 new works at Sydney Conservatorium. In 2012 Halcyon joined Synergy Percussion for a performance of Steve Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians at the Sydney Opera House, in the presence of the composer.

This year, Halcyon celebrates 15 years of music making and amidst the celebrations the ensemble will launch Kingfisher, a project to commemorate this special occasion, with commissions by 23 Australian composers.

Performing in The Journeys are sopranos Alison Morgan and Belinda Montgomery, mezzo-sopranos Jenny Duck-Chong and Jo Burton, harpist Genevieve Lang and percussionist Claire Edwardes. Tony Llewellyn-Jones delivers the narration with Michael Bates in charge of visual media.

Click here to listen to Halcyon.

Tickets: Full $30 | Concession & Under 30 $20.
Click here to book online or call 13 28 49; tickets are also available at the door.

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