Sydney-based new music ensemble Halcyon is celebrating its 20th birthday this year. Mezzo soprano and Halcyon co-founder Jenny Duck-Chong spoke to  Limelight about Halcyon’s first two decades and the state of play for new music in Australia.

What led you to found Halcyon 20 years ago?

When we co-founded Halcyon, soprano Alison Morgan and I had already been working together for a few years and were training under the same teacher. We had discovered we were like-minded singers, had spent hours together exploring the nuances of ensemble singing, presented duo recitals and worked together in other ensembles like The Contemporary Singers (the forerunner to Cantillation). We were excited by performing new vocal music and wanted to both challenge ourselves musically and explore the potential of our instruments. We were keen to work as chamber musicians alongside instrumental colleagues and found there was a diversity of rich and interesting works for voice and instruments, by well known composers and those more obscure. We loved the stripped back intimacy of small scale chamber music, the acrobatic dexterity it often demanded, and the thrill of presenting new works. But we knew this was not the standard career path for a young singer and that to do this we would...

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