Category Archives: Concerts

Upcoming 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.

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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.

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Spike Mason and Sirius Chamber Ensemble perform ‘FLYING’

We’re so excited to be performing with Spike Mason for the launch of his new CD, ‘FLYING’ next Friday night. This is Spike’s 8th album in his “10 albums in 10 years” project. FLYING is a large-scale original composition which combines the broad sound palette of a classical ensemble with free melodic improvisation. Check out this sneak preview.

And here’s a few more details about the event and venue.

  • Spike Mason and Sirius Chamber Ensemble will perform all of the music from the album.
  • Ensemble musicians: Ian Sykes (clarinet), Melissa Coleman (flute), Alex Fontaine (oboe), Alison Evans (bassoon), Gareth Lewis (trombone), Vanessa Tammetta (violin), Luke Spicer (viola), Steve Meyer (cello) and Benjamin Burton (piano).
  • The Tasmanian writer Di Adams will read her poem FLYING that inspired the music on this album, and
  • There will be a Q and A with Spike about the music he composed for the album.

When: Friday 2nd November 2018, 8.00 pm

Where: The Coote Theatre, The Scots College. Opposite 30 Victoria Rd, Bellevue Hill, Sydney.

Tickets: $30 (cash at the door) with each entry you also receive the ‘FLYING’ album artwork flyer, the ‘FLYING’ poem and a download code for an MP3 copy of the album.

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St Stephen’s Lunchtime Concert

Members of Sirius Chamber Ensemble will be performing a free lunchtime recital at St Stephen’s Uniting Church next Friday 12 October. A selection of works on this program will be performed as part of The Elements recital on Sunday 21 October 2018, 2:00 pm at Annandale Creative Arts Centre, 81 Johnston St, Annandale.

Performers: Melissa Coleman (flute), Ian Sykes (clarinet) and Clare Kahn (cello)


  • Nigel Butterley (1935 – ) The Wind Stirs Gently for flute and cello
  • Andrew Schultz (1960 – ) From Fire Country for solo bass clarinet
  • Gordon Kerry (1961 – ) Silver-point for solo flute
  • WA Mozart (1756 – 1791) Duets for clarinet and cello, KV 487 (arr. De Bleser)
  • Eve Duncan (1956 – ) Aer Turas for flute, clarinet and cello

When: Friday 12 October, 1.10 pm – 1.50 pm
Where: 197 Macquarie Street, Sydney. Admission is free – donations are kindly appreciated


Can’t make it Friday lunchtime, then come along to The Elements recital to hear an all-Australian program of music inspired by the four Western elements of nature – earth, air, fire and water. Music will be accompanied by stunning images by Slovakian-born photographer Henrich Varga.

When: Sunday 21 October 2018, 2:00 pm

Where: Annandale Creative Arts Centre, 81 Johnston St, Annandale.

Tickets: $20 Adults, $15 Concession, $10 Children – Available at or at the door.

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The Elements

Since ancient times, the four elements of nature – earth, air, fire and water – have inspired creative expressions by philosophers, poets, artists and musicians. Sirius Chamber Ensemble presents an all-Australian program of music inspired by these Western elements of culture, accompanied by stunning images by Slovakian-born photographer Henrich Varga. The selection of compositions and photographs reflect the impressions that these four elements – seen throughout the unique Australian landscape – has influenced Australian contemporary composers and their music making.

Graeme Koehne. Time is a River (2010) for clarinet and string quartet is a moving tribute to his mother. The clarinet represents a persona drifting down a swirling, free-flowing river depicted by the four voices from the string quartet.

Andrew Schultz. In From Fire Country (2003) a solo bass clarinet evokes the desolate landscape after destruction from fire.

Eve Duncan. Aer Turas (Air Journey) (2018) for flute, clarinet and cello depicts how the distinctive quality of air in varying landscapes across three continents can have a fresh, uplifting experience of being in nature.

Chris Wright. String Quartet (Premiere) will utilise the four instruments of the string quartet to depict all four elements.

Nigel Butterley. The Wind Stirs Gently (1992), inspired by a poem by Kathleen Raine, is a free rhapsodic conversation between flute and cello.

Gordon Kerry. Silver-Point (2000) for solo flute refers to the use of a silver wire to create a pencil-like drawing, and reminds us of the ways the earth – and the other elements essential to life – can be adapted to form art.

Musicians: Melissa Coleman (flute), Ian Sykes (clarinets), Clare Kahn (cello), Vanessa Tammetta, Dominique Guerbois (violins), Lucy Carrigy-Ryan (viola).


When: Sunday 21 October 2018, 2:00 pm

Where: Annandale Creative Arts Centre, 81 Johnston St, Annandale.

Tickets: $20 Adults, $15 Concession, $10 Children – Available at or at the door.

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Spike Mason ‘Flying’ CD Launch

Halfway through last year it was our absolute pleasure to collaborate with jazz musician (saxophones) and composer Spike Mason on his CD project, ‘FLYING’. We are really excited to share that we are launching the CD on Friday 2nd November, 8.00 pm at The Coote Theatre, Scots College, Bellevue Hill.

‘Flying’ was inspired by a poem, written by the Tasmanian poet Di Adams, about someone waking up and realising that they can FLY! Originally from Sydney, now based in Tasmania, Spike composed this work while flying back and forth to work each week in Sydney. The composition is a sublime combination of composed music for chamber ensemble with interweaving improvised melodies played by Spike. Each movement portrays the changing landscape that one might see from flying high above. A talented and respected jazz musician in his own right, it was a first for Spike to write music down for a “classical” chamber ensemble. But what he has been able to achieve is a work of beauty with layers of sound and ethereal harmonies.

Spike was fortunate to receive a grant from Arts Tasmania to fund the recording project. But we need some help to cover the production costs. You can support Spike through his crowdfunding page at Pozible. You can hear more from Spike about his inspiration for this project, on his CrowdFunding Video below.

We really hope that you might be able to support Spike in recognition of local creative artists collaborating on a truly amazing work. There are lots of different pledge options available, including MP3 copies of ‘FLYING’ and tickets to attend the launch of the CD to hear this wonderful project live.

We also thank our amazing musicians that play with us. Ensemble musicians involved in this recording include Ian Sykes (clarinet), Melissa Coleman (flute), Alex Fontaine (oboe), Alison Evans (bassoon), Gareth Lewis (trombone), Vanessa Tammetta (violin), Luke Spicer (viola), Steve Meyer (cello) and Claire Howard Race (piano).

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Meet the Composer – Houston Dunleavy

In our upcoming Meet the Composer concert, we will feature two Melbourne based composers, Eve Duncan and Dr Houston Dunleavy. In this post Houston discusses each of his compositions selected for this programme.


Houston Dunleavy holds a PhD in composition from the State University of New York at Buffalo, a Master of Music in composition and a Master of Music in Choral Conducting from the Cleveland Institute of Music.  He has held positions in Composition at the University of Wollongong, the Australian Institute of Music (Head of Composition and Production) and The Australian National University. His music has been performed in many countries and he has been guest artist as composer or conductor at over 30 Universities and international festivals. He has conducted over 40 operas and music theatre works, including new works, and has conducted a wide range of choral and instrumental works. In addition to being Academic Director of The Australian Guild of Music Education, he performs with his group “Third Rail”, is Artistic Director of The Southern Cross Philharmonia Orchestra, and Director of Music at St. Oswald’s Anglican Church, Glen Iris, Victoria.

Sideling Hill for flute and piano*

“This little piece came out of a visit to a place, a few kilometres west of Hancock. Maryland, USA (in the Maryland panhandle). Here a ridge has been cut through to make way for Interstate 68. Because all of the surrounding rock was more easily eroded, Sideling hill is a topographical inversion, and a great outdoor classroom for the student of geology. For a visitor like me, it was almost like a sculpture, full of beautiful flowing lines. So, this piece tries to illustrate these beautiful lines not only melodically, but over other parameters too, like harmonic and textural changes, rhythmic complexity and register. At the same time, I hope I’ve created a coherent piece of music!”

Mourning Song and Morning Dance for violin, cello and piano*

“Song and Dance for violin, cello and piano is in two movements. The first, “Mourning Song”, recalls the scene from the first part of Cervantes’s story where Don Quixote witnesses the funeral of a student who dies as a result of his love for a disdainful lady turned shepherdess. This music, both played and sung, tries to evoke the sadness of the occasion, but also, because of the alien sounds of the human voice and the plucked piano strings, also tries to emphasise the alien nature of Don Quixote himself.”

 “The second movement, “Morning Dance”, represents the joyful, although a little clumsy, dance of the knight errant as he leaves on the first morning of his first adventure and foreshadows the demise that must be his in his first battle. The crashes of steel and wood are portrayed in the heavy, accented music, while the awkward dance rhythms and metres accentuate Don Quixote’s ungainly horse and equipment.”

Fireball for clarinet and piano*

“I was a professional clarinettist until the age of 24, when a serious injury to my left hand put that life out of my reach. Since then, as a composer, I’ve resisted writing the standard “clarinet and piano” work because there have been so many good ones already written, and because I knew all the pitfalls one can fall into when writing for this beast. So, it took a long time for me to work up the courage to compose this piece, and, when I did, I seem to have made it one of the most difficult pieces in the repertoire! Everything is based on the leaping motives in the clarinet, and the step-by-step runs in the piano. For a little variation, the clarinet fills in some of the leaps by glissandi, and performs some trills that are not quite those that are found in text books.”

*Première performances


Meet the Composer Concert

When: Saturday 23rd June 2018, 6:00 pm

Where: Christ Church Lavender Bay, corner of Walker and Lavender Streets, Lavender Bay, NSW.

Tickets: $30 Adults, $20 Concession, $10 Child available at or at the door.

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Meet the Composer – Eve Duncan

Our annual Meet the Composer concerts have become increasingly popular as an informal way to hear new music and to learn from the composers themselves about what influences their music. This year, Sirius Chamber Ensemble are delighted to have Melbourne-based composers, Eve Duncan and Dr Houston Dunleavy to discuss their work alongside performances of a selection of their compositions. In this post, we introduce Eve Duncan and her compositions selected for this programme.

ED Composer

Eve Duncan has won distinguished awards, including the International Music Prize for Excellence in Composition (Greece), Recital Music Double Bass Composition Competition (England) and the International Modern Music Award for Composition (Vienna). She received her Doctor of Creative Arts (Western Sydney University) with Bruce Crossman and Clare MacLean, Masters in Music (University of Melbourne) with Brenton Broadstock, and Honours in Music Composition (Latrobe University) with Anthony Briggs.

Sirius Chamber Ensemble previously premiered a new arrangement of Eve Duncan’s Madonna and Child with Goldfinch (2008) for soprano, flute, clarinet, violin and cello in 2015, as part of a programme of music by Sydney composer Alan Holley. Based on a poem by David Malouf, Madonna and Child with Goldfinch, and inspired by the Italian, Renaissance painting, portends an apocalyptic future, saturated with media melancholia and global warming. Words that reverberate still ten years on. The sublime soprano, Taryn Srhoj returns to Sirius for this performance.

Aer Turas (Air Journey) for flute, clarinet and cello depicts the distinctiveness of air experienced in different landscapes from Asia and America to Australia. For Eve, travelling gave her “distinctly uplifting experiences of air in mountains and deserts, that has remained as a fresh experience over time.” 

Composed in 1999, Little Botanicus for clarinet, cello and piano was written in celebration of the first-born daughter of cellist Penny Veldman. Of the work Eve describes it as, “a sketch of the emergence of a rose, through light and sound ether, condensing to warmth, then further condensing to warmth, air, water and solid matter.”

The Submerging City for cello and piano was written in 2007 following a typical Melbourne, summer heatwave and eventual cool change. Inspired by a painting of a city landscape submerged in water by Melbourne artist Jon Cattapan, Eve composed this musical reverie, “where drops of rain after summer heat lead to a fantasy of a living city underwater; oblivious to its having being drowned.”

Alexander’s Elements for flute, clarinet and bassoon is inspired by Alexander the Great. Through his travels he introduced the Hellenic teachings to Egypt and India, including aspects of the elements in relation to the human. For example, the elements within man include earth in bones, fire and water in the heart, blood circulation and other bodily fluids, and air in breathing.

In our next post, we will introduce Dr Houston Dunleavy and his selection of music for this programme.

Meet the Composer Concert

When: Saturday 23rdJune 2018, 6:00 pm

Where: Christ Church Lavender Bay, corner of Walker and Lavender Streets, Lavender Bay, NSW.

Tickets: $30 Adults, $20 Concession, $10 Child available at or at the door.

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Brahms’ Horn Trio Op. 40

Contrary to a previously advertised post about the Brahms’ Horn Trio, Op. 40, we would like to inform a change in soloist for this performance. Due to unforeseen circumstances, Michael Wray is unable to perform with Sirius Chamber Ensemble, however, we are delighted to announce the performance will be given by SSO fellow horn player, Aidan Gabriels.

Aidan Gabriels

Aidan Gabriels Sydney Symphony Orchestra Fellowship

Perth-born Aidan Gabriels comes from a family of four, all of whom began playing violin at a young age. He studied violin from the age of five and at ten he received a scholarship to begin studying French horn at John XXIII College. He has since studied with some of Australia’s leading horn players, including Robert Gladstones, Peter Luff, Ysolt Clarke and Ben Jacks.

In 2012 Aidan began a Bachelor of Music degree at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (studying with Robert Gladstones). In 2014 he moved to Brisbane, where he continued his degree, and in 2017 he joined the Australian National Academy of Music program in Melbourne.

Aidan has played with a number of Australian orchestras, including the West Australian, Queensland and Melbourne symphony orchestras and the Camerata of St Johns Chamber Orchestra. A long-term member of the Australian Youth Orchestra, in 2016 he toured with the orchestra to Europe and China, performing in some of the world’s most renowned concert venues.

Aidan Gabriels will perform the Brahms’ Horn Trio, Op. 40 with Angela Cassar (violin) and Benjamin Burton (piano) as part of our Songs My Mother Taught Me concert on Saturday 12th May, 6.00 pm at Christ Church Lavender Bay. Tickets available from or at the door.

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Songs My Mother Taught Me

Antonín Dvořák is arguably the second most notable composer from the Czech Republic, after Bedřich Smetana, to reach worldwide acclaim. Both are well-known for their nationalist style and employment of folk music in their compositions.


Originally written for voice and piano in 1880, “Songs my mother taught me” is the fourth song from Gypsy Songs, B.104, Op. 55. It has become one of the most popular and often performed songs from the seven-song cycle. Such is the popularity of the song that in addition to being frequently recorded by a number of well-known singers, there have been numerous instrumental arrangements regularly performed and recorded by musicians including Fritz Kreisler, Julian Lloyd Webber, Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman and Joshua Bell. Given the cello’s naturally lyrical and emotive qualities it is particularly well suited to take on the vocal line in the song.

The Gypsy Songs were composed around the same time as Dvorak’s Slavonic Dances (1878-1886). The original version for piano 4-hands, sold well, and the series of 16 orchestral pieces (Op. 46 and Op72) raised Dvorak’s international reputation. “Songs My Mother Taught Me” demonstrates all of Dvorak’s supreme talent for combining nationalistic folk influences with romantic, lyrical melodies.

While the poems that provide the lyrics for the song cycle were originally written in Czech, and translated into German for the song settings, English versions of the lyrics are also sometimes performed. The performance translation of the lyrics for Songs My Mother Taught Me are as follows:

Songs my mother taught me, in the days long vanished;

Seldom from her eyelids were the teardrops banished.

Now I teach my children each melodious measure.

Oft the tears are flowing, oft they flow from my memory’s treasure.

This work will be performed by Clare Kahn (cello) and Benjamin Burton (piano) as part of our Songs My Mother Taught Me concert on Saturday 12 May, 6.00 pm at Christ Church Lavender Bay. Tickets are available at or at the door.

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