Tag Archives: Olivier Messiaen

A Portrait: The Music of Alan Holley

Le Merle Noir. Photo credit: Fotolia

Rehearsals are underway for our concert with Alan Holley and Eve Duncan next Sunday afternoon. We will be presenting works composed by Alan Holley, Eve Duncan and other works that have had a profound influence on Alan’s career, such as Messiaen Le Merle Noir. The concert will also feature Borneo Songs, a suite of songs composed for solo voice and wind quintet – a collaboration between Alan and Jyoti Brunsdon (1941-2011) author, librettist, musician and editor. Originally commissioned by Enigma – Five, but rarely performed. It is a delight to be presenting this beautiful work inspired by the sounds and heat of the jungles of Borneo. Join us for an afternoon of music inspired by birdsong and hear Alan speak about his compositions.


  • Lutoslawki – Dance Preludes (clarinet & piano)
  • Holley – Musics for Sue (oboe & piano)
  • Holley – Edward Harvey Portrait (flute, clarinet & violin)
  • Messiaen – Le Merle Noir (flute & piano)
  • Holley – Take Flight (violin & cello)
  • Eve Duncan – Madonna & Child with Goldfinch (soprano, flute, clarinet, violin, cello)
  • Holley – Borneo Songs (soprano, flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, horn)

Performers: Taryn Srhoj (soprano), Melissa Coleman (flute), Alex Fontaine (oboe), Ian Sykes (clarinet), Alison Evans (bassoon), Tina Brain (horn), Martyn Hentschel (violin), Steve Meyer (cello) and Claire Howard Race (piano).

Sunday 13th September, 3:00pm

Glebe Justice Centre, 37-47 St Johns Road, Glebe

Tickets can be purchased through ClassikON


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Messiaen in May

Firstly, we would like to thank Helen Vidovich for performing with us last month while she was home from the U.K. It was great to see Helen again and hear her beautiful playing. For those of you who would like to follow where Helen and Trio Marsyas are performing next visit their website.

Next month we will be performing again at St Philip’s Church. It will be a diverse program including the sombre ‘Quartet for the end of time by Olivier Messiaen, contrasted with the more optimistic Incantations for Wind Quintet by Ross Edwards. Also on the program will be a repeat performance of the Clarinet Trio in Bb, Op 11 by Beethoven.

Composed as a prisoner-of-war on a scrap of paper with a borrowed pencil, the Quartet for the end of time (1940-41) was performed on old, broken instruments by fellow prisoners in the  Stalag VIII-A in Görlitz, Germany on January 15, 1941. The work, in eight movements, was inspired by the text from the Book of Revelation. One can not imagine what was in the minds of the performers or the audience members while they sat in the rain listening, perhaps with some solace to this music. Despite the solemnity of the work, Messiaen drew inspiration for nature as well. In particular, the first movement for the whole quartet depicts the sounds of awakening birds. Messiaen wrote in the score the following description,

Between three and four in the morning, the awakening of birds: a solo blackbird or nightingale improvises, surrounded by a shimmer of sound, by a halo of trills lost very high in the trees. Transpose this onto a religious plane and you have the harmonious silence of Heaven.

The Incantations for Wind Quintet (2006) by Ross Edwards is the revised version of Maninya III (1985) . Like most of Edwards’ compositions the work depicts sounds from nature especially that of birdsong.

For the Clarinet trio in Bb, Op 11 (1798) Beethoven may not have used birds for inspiration but the theme of third movement was taken from a popular street song at the time. Descriptions of this work does not sound like the typical Beethoven. Indeed, ‘light’ and ‘gentle’ and words not often associated with Beethoven. Written when he was only 28 the three movement work for clarinet, cello and piano is lyrical and playful at heart.

When: Saturday 19 May, 7.00pm
Where: St Philip’s Church, 3 York Street, Sydney
Tickets: Adults $35; Student/Concession $25; Child (12 years and under) $15
Bookings online: try booking 

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