The sun rises every day over a world that is both very familiar and full of the unexpected. The borders with the unknown unknowns are all around us – the forgotten past and the imagined future out of reach, but unfathomable creative feats of imagination within our grasp in the here and now. In The Song Company’s 2018 season we remember the century-old hope at the end of the “war to end all wars” with a newly-commissioned work by Ross Edwards, and we sing and talk of love and loss in much older times through the voices of Guillaume de Machaut and his admirer Péronnelle; we also sit round the table with William Byrd and his contemporaries to rediscover the lost art of partbooking, and we map the seasons in a kaleidoscopic selection of music alongside an Indigenous creative response to the changing of the seasons – from Bundjalung and Wiradjuri dancer and choreographer Thomas E.S. Kelly. Lightly dusted across the season are the thoughts of metaphysical poets George Herbert and John Donne, and with them we imagine beyond...

Imagin´d Corners is built around our Subscription series of four mainstage concerts: BYRD-ROUND-TABLE – The Dow Partbooks and the Lost Art of Partbooking; TRUE-LOVE-STORY – The True Story of Guillaume de Machaut & Péronnelle d’Armentières; FOUR-COLOUR-SEASON With Thomas E.S. Kelly's Karul Projects – The Seasons, the Sky, and the Gumleaves in voices and dance from Chance to Vivaldi; ONE-EQUAL-MUSIC – Memory Eternal in music of our century from Russia, England, and Australia; culminating in a special 75th birthday concert for composer Ross Edwards with an intimate chamber performance of Fauré’s perennial Requiem.

The Song Company is delighted to continue our partnership with Yellow House Sydney where all the mainstage concerts in our 2018 season will receive a special Preview.



– The Dow Partbooks and the Lost Art of Partbooking

Exquisite polyphony by William Byrd and friends, written down in the late 16th century between Oxford and London and sung from partbooks around the table – in town tavern and country house.

Imagine a dinner party where your host passes round antique leatherbound music manuscripts and says, “You’re singing tenor!” Then around the table one voice after another begins to sing from the ancient Dow Partbooks, bringing to life the most beautiful music from late 16th-century Oxford and London. Each part has to count and listen out for the others, and together they own the communal but invisible pulse – the “tactus”, a Latin word meaning something touched or felt. Whether singing or listening, the experience is one of an unfolding narrative – a communal navigation through a gorgeous harmonic landscape – enabling us to explore the innermost feelings hidden in the music of William Byrd and his friends, who shared this sumptuous polyphony over 400 years ago, no doubt with candles, wine, much laughter and bonhomie!

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– The True Story of Guillaume de Machaut & Péronnelle d’Armentières

An autobiographical mediaeval French romance in a time of war and plague – as told by poet and composer Guillaume de Machaut.

In 1359 the English attempted to lay siege to Rheims – a crucial prize in the Hundred Years’ War as France’s coronation city; two years later France’s greatest poet and composer, Guillaume de Machaut entertained the heir to the throne and in 1364 witnessed the coronation of Charles the Fifth. But the early 1360s were exciting and fruitful for Machaut for other reasons: he began a lengthy correspondence with a young female admirer and documented their friendship in what he called the “book of the true story”, Le Livre du Voir Dit, containing over 9000 lines of poetry, and the letters, love-poems, and songs they sent to each other – the ultimate 14th-century multimedia presentation. The accuracy of the narrative Machaut sets down in his “true poem” is sometimes questionable, but there is a ring of veracity in the haphazard and sometimes contradictory recollections of the course of what must be true love…

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– With Thomas E.S. Kelly's Karul Projects
The Seasons, the Sky, and the Gumleaves in voices and dance from Chance to Vivaldi

An evergreen selection of song and brand-new Indigenous dance to match the patterns and movement of the many Australian seasons.

Following the movement of our planet around the sun, the weather changes and nature responds in colour and shape to the wind and the rain, the shadows and the sunshine. The traditional four seasons of Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter have been depicted in European art and music for centuries, but the Aboriginal experience of the seasons is a much more varied and subtler story that tells of the patterns of animal and plant life and their direct impact on survival. In this sympathetic synthesis of two artforms The Song Company is joined by a duo of dancers from Thomas E.S. Kelly's Karul Projects to trace the course of the Earth’s annual journey in movement and song, both old and new.

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– Memory Eternal in music of our century from Russia, England, and Australia

One hundred years since the ending of the Great War we sing of a peace at once unattainable and everlasting, culminating in a radiant new work by Ross Edwards.

The poetry of 17th-century metaphysician John Donne and the late playwright Douglas Muecke form the twin doors to a world of remembrance and resurgence in a program framed by newly-commissioned music by three Australian composers: Ruth McCall, Ella Macens, and in his 75th year, Ross Edwards. One century ago in Compiègne the world witnessed the end of the “war to end all wars”, hoping that humankind would not undergo again such an overwhelming catastrophe. Composers have long tried to imagine a world without war and suffering, and in luminous harmonies touch on that state beyond conflict and without end – Donne’s own vision of eternal life centres on perfection and freedom from the earthly imbalance and disorder so familiar to us in the here and now – “no noise, nor silence, but one equal music”.

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