Category Archives: Concerts

Upcoming Concerts

Friday Music Presents Sirius Ensemble

If you’re in the CBD next Friday and looking for a lunchtime break with some beautiful chamber music, then head to St Stephen’s Uniting Church.

Co-artistic director Ian Sykes (clarinet) will perform with guest pianist Benjamin Burton.


  • Witold Lutoslawski (1913 – 1994) – Dance Preludes for clarinet and piano (1954)
  • Johannes Brahms (1833 – 1897) – Sonata in F minor for clarinet and piano, Op. 120, No. 1 (1894)

When: Friday 14 May 2021, 1:00 pm

Where: St Stephen’s Uniting Church, Macquarie St, Sydney

Tickets: $10

For venue details: Friday Music Concert Series

Next concerts

Sirius 10th Anniversary Concert – Saturday 5 June 2021, 7:30 pm

Clarence Valley Conservatorium 2021 Chamber Music Festival – Saturday 19 June 2021, 7:00 pm

Leave a comment

Filed under Concerts

10th Anniversary Concert

This year marks the 10-year anniversary of Sirius Chamber Ensemble. After such a remarkably challenging 2020, where COVID-19 impacted performing artists worldwide, we celebrate this milestone for our ensemble with a concert featuring music close to our hearts. New music written for the ensemble will be performed, alongside a selection of chamber music repertoire loved by our audiences. Melissa Coleman (flute), Ian Sykes (clarinet), Alison Evans (bassoon), Clare Kahn (cello) and Claire Howard Race (piano) will be joined by original ensemble member Georgina Price (viola) and our most popular guest artist, soprano Taryn Srhoj.

Program includes chamber music masterpieces by Max BruchGustav MahlerNino Rota, Guillaume Connesson, and Australian Nigel ButterleyAlso featured on the program is recent Australian music by Paul SmithEve DuncanCorrina Bonshek and Tony Wheeler.

When: 7.30pm, Saturday 5th June 2021.

Where: Sydney Presbytery, 37 St Johns Road, Glebe.

Tickets: $30 Adults, $20 Concession, $10 Children – Available at or at the door.

Follow us on FaceBook and Instagram: @siriuschamberensemble

Leave a comment

Filed under Concerts

Recital update

We hope this post finds all of our audience, friends and fellow musicians well. These are indeed difficult times for us all, particularly those in the arts sector. We can’t wait to return to performing for you, but unfortunately our recital at St Stephen’s Uniting Church scheduled for this Friday, 10th July has been postponed by the church. Our trio of Claire Howard Race (piano), Clare Kahn (cello) and Ian Sykes (clarinet) hope to bring you the recital of music by Nino Rota, Gabriel Fauré and Gerald Finzi on Friday, 16th October at 1.10pm instead. Like everyone, we are just waiting to see how the situation develops. We will keep you updated!

In the meantime, the performances we gave for Melbourne Composer’s League last November have been uploaded to their YouTube page and can be viewed here: The program entitled ‘the birds will sing them off’ features music by Alan Holley, Margery Smith, Eve Duncan, Houston Dunleavy, Maria Muyco, Brendan Black, Joseph Giovinazzo and Livia Judge.

Stay safe and well, we hope to see you at a concert soon.

Leave a comment

Filed under Concerts

Music in the time of Covid

Hello to all our subscribers and our wonderful audience, we hope you are doing well in these difficult times. The members of Sirius Chamber Ensemble are all missing performing for you, we are sad to have had to cancel or postpone our concert plans during this time.

However, we do hope to be back in recital on Friday, 10th July, 1.10pm at St Stephen’s Church, Macquarie St Sydney. Our trio of Ian Sykes (clarinet), Clare Kahn (cello) and Claire Howard Race (piano) will be performing music by Nino Rota, Gerald Finzi and Gabriel Fauré. Of course, with the uncertainty around restrictions at this time, please check our social media or blog for updates closer to the time to see if this event will be able to go ahead.

In the meantime, with everyone starved for live music, we are undertaking the long-overdue task of uploading some of our performances to our YouTube page.

Our latest upload is from our August 2019 concert, featuring our Artistic Director Ian Sykes (clarinet) performing the Australian premiere of Albanian composer Kris Sopiqoti’s piece AlbPhonia.

Also available on our page are performances of music by Australian composers Margery Smith and Tony Wheeler, with more to come over the next few months.

We hope you stay safe and well, and look forward to seeing you at a concert sometime soon.

Leave a comment

Filed under Concerts

Melbourne Composers’ League concerts

This weekend we will make our Victorian debut in two concerts for the Melbourne Composers’ League. Guest flutist Lisa Breckenridge will join our core musicians Ian Sykes (clarinet) and Clare Kahn (cello) to perform works written by members of MCL.

Concert 1 – Saturday 9th November, 7.30pm

Church of All Nations, 180 Palmerston St, Carlton

Concert 2 – Sunday 10th November, 2.30pm

St Oswald’s Church, 100 High St, Glen Iris

The program will be:

Eve Duncan Aer Turas for flute, clarinet and cello

Brendan Black Uncommon Trio No.1 for flute, clarinet and cello (premiere)

Livia Judge a Granados for solo flute

Houston Dunleavy Concord Duet for flute and clarinet (premiere)

Alan Holley ‘the birds will sing them off’ for solo clarinet

Margery Smith Poppy Re-Imagined for clarinet and cello

Maria Christine Muyco Alalang Kundiman for flute, clarinet and cello (premiere)

Joseph Giovinazzo A Box of Events for flute, clarinet and cello (premiere)

Leave a comment

Filed under Concerts

Composer Portrait

Our upcoming Composer Portrait concert will feature the music of Corrina Bonshek and Margery Smith. The program will include a world premiere and two Australian premiere performances. We spoke to Margery recently about her work and inspiration for the pieces we are to perform.

Margery Smith. Photo: artist supplied

Sirius: Sirius will be performing the Australian premiere of The Long Now. Tell us about how this piece was conceived and first performed.

Margery: The Long Now was written whilst taking part in the program Composing in the Wilderness, jointly run by Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival, the National Park Service and Alaska Geographic. The Long Now
is the result of this experience and was first performed on July 22nd, 2019
at the Denali National Park Visitors Centre, Alaska. The nine composers who took part in this program wrote music inspired by some aspect of their experience in Denali National Park. For my own contribution, the braided rivers that we saw from a high pass below as patterns, or simply watching from the riverbed inspired me. Listening to the rushing, gurgling and bubbles – the fresh vapour clearing my head. Perhaps listening to these rivers and the stories past and present that they tell will help us to understand that everything in the world is connected in some way. 

S: Both Poppy and Inferno reference visual art. Tell us about the art which inspired your music.

M: Both Poppy and Inferno were originally inspired by the artwork of my brother Pete Smith. Poppy is inspired by Pete’s graffiti style poppy images. Poppy was an early work in Pete’s journey as an artist; the lines are bold, stylistic yet with a softer quality. This makes a great start for a musical work…simple but strong lines suggest shapes in sound.

Inferno was inspired by a selection of Pete’s series on Dante’s Inferno. Pete’s Inferno series are much later paintings, however Pete’s bold style shines through, and was a wonderful start to my own imagination. 

S: How does your compositional process usually begin? 

M: The first part of any new project for me is searching for an angle to act as a springboard for inspiration. I will churn through many ideas before the central argument for the work becomes clear, and sometimes I don’t figure out what the work is doing until I am a fair way through the process. At other times it seems that hours are spent without much to show for the effort, and then as if by magic, a whole lot of ideas will crystallize onto a score very quickly and looking back, I think ‘Where did all that come from?’ A creative process is fascinating to step back and observe, so much happens behind the scenes in ones mind – relationships happen between your ideas that you are not consciously aware of.

There is the big idea behind the music, but so much realizing this is problem solving. The old saying of ‘sleeping on a problem’ often suggests solutions, but often these will come ‪at 3am! Questions like ‘what is that sound I can hear in my head?’ ‘How can I represent my ideas so the musicians can understand what I am asking of them?’ A musical score is a blueprint for action in sound, yet so much is open for interpretation and this is where the magic really happens for me. My music invites the performer to participate in my creative process, often I loosen the parameters so that performers interact and can add something of them selves to the score with elements of improvisation.

S: Who are some other composers or musicians who inspire you?

M: These are many! I love composers like Ligeti, John Adams but I also admire artists Björk and Laurie Anderson. I enjoy exploring the work of artists who embrace a broad context of what it means to be a musician. There is much to explore, I just keep an open mind. A highlight of my recent trip to Alaska was seeing/listening to John Luther Adams’ work ‘The Place where you go to listen’ literally hearing the landscape sounding, real-time seismic and weather events controlling the music. So, I’ve been reading a lot of Luther Adams writings, listening, trying to figure how he controls the massive soundscapes that he creates. 

S: What other projects are you currently working on?

M: At the moment I’m planning a multi-work project based around Southwestern Victoria, the new landscape where I am currently living. Themes will be based around environment, water, pre-colonial history and contemporary influences. Music is so abstract; it embodies emotions, a sense of place…

S: What is the most unusual place your music has been performed?

M: One of the most interesting places a work of mine was performed was in an empty grain silo-the acoustic was truly amazing!

Margery Smith is a composer-performer and creative music workshop facilitator with a special interest in collaborative work. She is a curious musician who explores new music and improvisation with works that cross boundaries through producing her own projects. Smith loves to work with students of all ages and abilities, and has performed throughout the world on both clarinet and saxophone. She has held Principal positions with Australia’s leading orchestras and chamber music ensembles. 

Concert details: Annandale Creative Arts Centre
81 Johnston St, Annandale on Sunday 20 October, 2.00 pm. Tickets via

Leave a comment

Filed under Concerts

Composer Portrait

Our next concert will feature the music of Margery Smith and Corrina Bonshek. The program will include a world premiere and two Australian premiere performances. We spoke to Corrina recently about her work and inspiration for the pieces we are to perform.

Corrina Bonshek. Photo: Lamp Photography

Sirius: Sirius will be performing the Australian premiere of Up in the Clouds. Tell us about how this piece was conceived and first performed.

Corrina: There’s quite a long backstory about this piece as it’s actually based in a work I wrote called Desert Time for solo Pipa or Chinese Lute! In 2015, I was a composer-in-residence at the Experimental Thai Music Laboratory at Burapha University of the Arts in Thailand where I met an amazing Pipa performer called Jasmine Chen. After seeing her perform, I asked if I could write a piece for her, even though I had never written for that instrument. Up in the Clouds reworks many of the musical ideas and sound colours of that piece, but on western instruments. I was inspired to do this after seeing how Dr Koji Nakano, director of Experimental Thai Music Laboratory, has done this with many of his works and has sought ways to bring sound colours and gestures traditional instruments into western contemporary music. The opportunity came for me to do this, when from my friend Rachel Walker (a fellow composer who writes for western and Chinese instruments) invited me to write for All of the Above, a sextet based in Cincinatti USA with [Schoenberg’s] Pierrot Lunaireinstrumentation; flute, clarinet, violin, cello, percussion, and piano. 

S: You have written Lotus Flower Blossoming for Sirius with the voice of soprano Taryn Srhoj in mind. How did you come to be inspired to write for Taryn and Sirius?

C: I heard Taryn perform at a 2016 Sirius Chamber Ensemble concert themed around birdsong and was impressed by the way she embodied the emotions of the song, particularly one that told of sadness postwar and release via nature. I thought, wouldn’t it be amazing to write some powerful music for Taryn. Strangely life & art has taken us on a different direction, and instead I have written a really joyous work for Taryn and Sirius about spiritual awakening.

S: How does your compositional process usually begin? 

C: It begins with a seed / musical idea and a context to grow it. I ideally write with particular performers and a length of time in mind. Then I weave ideas out of the seed to fit the performers and the timeframe. I like to work closely with the performers or know their musical habits and tastes well. This means I can do fun things to invite them further into the work via graphic notation or improvisation. I quite like mixing up scoring styles and lately have been moving between standard notation and graphic, plus electroacoustic layers/processing.

S: What other projects are you currently working on?

C: Right now, I am getting ready for a residency at HOTA Home of the Arts Gold Coast with Jasmine Chen, Michael Askill, Anna Whitaker and Daniel Belton of Good Company Arts as part of inaugural HOTA Creative Development program, a partnership between HOTA and the City of Gold Coast. Our team is making a 40-minute performance inspired by connection of humans to the stars and recent digital mapping of our galaxy, which is one of a vast supercluster of galaxies. I am enjoying the compositional challenge of suggesting the vastness of time and space with two instrumentalists and a lot of electroacoustic processing, spatialisation and effects. 

S: What is the most unusual place your music has been performed?

C: One of my favourite ‘unusual’ places was the opening of Sydney Labyrinth at Centennial Park Sydney. I wrote music for string quartet and birdsong that you can stream while you are walking the labyrinth. The opening was really special as I got to see elders from 11 different faith traditions blessing the labyrinth path whilst walking and listening to my music. It was quite an experience! 

Concert details: Annandale Creative Arts Centre
81 Johnston St, Annandale on Sunday 20 October, 2.00 pm. Tickets via

1 Comment

Filed under Concerts

A note from the composer…

We are pleased to collaborate with Hammerings Records and Alan Holley again for tomorrow’s recital. Alan has, as always, led us to discover some wonderful new music which we can’t wait to share with our audience. Here are some thoughts from Alan about the music we will be performing tomorrow.

Starting points in an art work

When assisting Sirius Chamber Ensemble with the programming for Saturday’s concert I realised that Pa Titull, which translates as ‘No Title’, the flute and piano work by the Albanian composer Enis Mullaj, was a reaction to a loss in his immediate family. It is a work full of drama, with some moments of raw emotion and also contains moments of intense beauty.

My own Umbra, from 2001, 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. I liked the idea of having two works in the same concert that started from a similar idea – an experience of loss.

What I did not know was the clarinet solo by the young Albanian composer Kris Sopiqoti, AlbPhonia 1 touches similar ground. Kris writes about the influences of his work, ‘In our culture Kaba is a musical form where the folk clarinettist plays a solo improvisation and expresses his deeper emotions imitating a human lamentation for the dead. Kaba was used as a way of crying with no words at all, during ceremonies for the dead.’ 

And yet these three works, from different spaces, all travel their own musical paths and without tapping extreme musical emotions.

Alan Holley

Christ Church

Lavender and Walker Streets,

Lavender Bay

August 3 at 5pm

Tickets $30 and $20 concession

Tickets on sale at the door

Alan Holley – Piano Sonata
Francis Poulenc – Sonata for clarinet and bassoon
Kris SopiqotiAlbPhonia for solo clarinet
Enis Mullaj“Pa Titull…” for flute and piano
Eve Duncan From A Star Afar for solo piano
JS Bach – Prelude and Fugue in B flat minor
Paul SmithClow Card Variations for flute, clarinet and bassoon
Alan Holley Umbra for clarinet and piano

Guest Performer:
Danaë Killian (piano)

Sirius Chamber Ensemble

Melissa Coleman (flute)
Ian Sykes (clarinet)
Alison Evans (bassoon)
Claire Howard Race (piano)

Leave a comment

Filed under Concerts

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Concerts

Upcoming collaborations 2019

Sirius Chamber Ensemble have ongoing collaborations in 2019 with performances in Grafton, Sydney and Melbourne. As we are always committed to performing new chamber music, our upcoming concert programs will feature premiere performances of works by Australian and Albanian composers. For our Composer Portrait concert, Sirius will perform works by Corrina Bonshek and Margery Smith. Later in the year, we will perform new works composed by members of the Melbourne Composers’ League.


As part of the 2019 Clarence Valley Chamber Music Festival, Sirius will perform a concert for piano and winds at the Clarence Valley Conservatorium, Grafton on Sunday 30 June, 1.00 p.m. Programme includes Quintet for piano and winds K.452 by Mozart, the Sextet for piano and winds by Poulenc and an Australian premiere of Rock of Reconciliation for flute, oboe, clarinet and piano by US based, Australian composer Kristofer Spike.


Sirius Chamber Ensemble will present a joint performance with Melbourne pianist Danaë Killian at Christ Church Lavender Bay on Saturday 3 August, 6.00 p.m. Programme includes works by Australian composers Alan Holley, Eve Duncan and Paul Smith as well as Albanian composers Enis Mullaj and Kris Sopiqoti. Danaë Killian is an Australian pianist whose poetry-infused performances have found regard internationally for their intense originality and rare communicative power. Her broad repertoire includes works from J.S Bach, music of the Second Viennese Schoolas well as a wealth of Australian contemporary compositions.


Our Composer Portrait concert will feature two Australian composers Corrina Bonshek and Margery Smith. The programme will include the Australian premiere of Up In The Clouds for flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano and vibraphone by Corrina Bonshek as well as a new arrangement of Inferno for solo clarinet, flute, bassoon, violin, cello, piano and vibraphone by Margery Smith. Details about concert date and venue will be published soon.


For a performance later in the year, Sirius Chamber Ensemble will collaborate with members from the Melbourne Composers’ League. The Melbourne Composers’ League is a non‐profit organization who promote indigenous and contemporary art music of Australia and the Asia‐Pacific. Sirius are honoured to be selecting new compositions for a performance on 9 November. Programme details will be published later in the year.


2019 Programme details:


Sirius Chamber Ensemble: Music for Wind Quintet and Piano

Clarence Valley Conservatorium, Grafton on Sunday 30 June, 1.00 p.m.

Performers: Melissa Coleman (flute), Alex Fontaine (oboe), Ian Sykes (clarinet), Tony Grimm (bassoon), Hannah Murray (french horn) and Benjamin Burton (piano).

Performance and ticket details see 2019 Clarence Valley Chamber Music Festival


Sirius Chamber Ensemble and Danaë Killian

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

Christ Church Lavender Bay, 10 Walker St, Lavender Bay on Saturday 3 August, 6.00 p.m.

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Concerts