An Interview with Alan Holley

Apologies to our readers – there is a correction to the start time for the upcoming concert on Saturday 3 August, which will commence at 5.00 p.m. and not 6.00 p.m. as previously advertised.

Sirius Chamber Ensemble and Hammerings Records are pleased to present a co-production with guest artist Danae Killian, featuring music of Alan Holley, Enis Mullaj and Kris Sopiqoti. We asked Alan a few questions about the project.

Sirius – Tell us about the two pieces Sirius Chamber Ensemble and pianist, Danae Killian, will perform in August, the Piano Sonata and Umbra.

AH – I wrote the Piano Sonata (2001) for the Italian pianist Michele Bolla when he toured here that year. In four movements, I approached the work in a classical way using old-fashioned forms and a conventional approach to movement speeds; fast – slow – quirky – fast.

Umbra was written as a ‘memory piece’, a musical contemplation fifteen years after the death of my father. It is not sad in approach but rather inward looking. Umbra has as one of its meanings, a shadow or darkness. It is also from 2001 and it will be intriguing to hear two works from the same year in concert 18 years later.

Sirius – Your music has become increasingly performed in Europe. What are some of the highlights of your 2019 European performances?

AH – Throughout July the Australian Chamber Choir performed my composition Time Passages to a text by Mark Tredinnick in Denmark, Germany and England. There are also performances in Victoria and also soon in Sydney. The conductor Douglas Lawrence and the choir were magnificent and hearing my music in the beautiful Trinitatis Cathedral in Copenhagen is a memory I will long cherish. Built in the mid 1600s it has an acoustic that made my ‘dots’ become something akin to magic.

Sirius – Sirius will perform Australian premieres of music by Kris Sopiqoti and Enis Mullaj. Tell us about your relationship with these two composers.


Enis Mullaj (left) with Alan Holley (right).

AH – I met Enis in Albania in 2016 and I have been able to organise a couple of performances of his enchanting and dramatic music in Sydney. When an invitation came to have a concert of my music in Albania in June this year, including my Borneo Songs for singer and wind quintet, I was pleased that Enis was also on the program. The work was Pa Titull, which translates as ‘no title’, for flute and piano and is the same work that Sirius will perform on August 3.


Kris Sopiqoti (left) with Alan Holley (right).

I only met Kris this trip but I already knew of his music. The music coming out of Tirana now reminds me of the exciting times we had in Sydney in the 1970s when young composers were realising that they are part of a bigger world and the music of here then and now in Tirana is full of vision and boldness. His solo clarinet work is both virtuosic and lyrical.

Saturday 3 August, 5.00 p.m.

Christ Church Lavender Bay, 10 Walker St, Lavender Bay, Sydney.

Sirius musicians: Ian Sykes (clarinet), Melissa Coleman (flute), Alison Evans (bassoon) and Claire Howard Race (piano).

Tickets: $30 Adult; $20 Concession via trybooking or at the door.

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