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Syzygy Ensemble's 'Revive' and the story behind it

Syzygy Ensemble's 'Revive' and the story behind it

A fearless pioneer in chamber music, Syzygy Ensemble combines virtuoso talent with a bold commitment to today’s music. Celebrated for their breathtaking precision and innovative repertoires, the ensemble seeks to create connections between 21st-century artists and audiences.

With the return of performances to the Primrose Potter Salon, Syzygy Ensemble’s ‘Revive’ is a meticulously crafted performance featuring world premieres from Zinia Chan, Keyna Wilkins, Anthony Moles and Cyrus Meurant.

In the lead up to their performance on Thursday 24 March, the four composers share the the inspiration behind their pieces.


“During the writing of this commission I experienced a life-altering accident, so I wanted this piece to communicate appreciation, resilience, hope and transformation. Weaving of Threads draws parallels between Mycorrhiza, and explores the symbiotic nature of human relationships through an ensemble of energy exchanges.

There is a pivotal point in which the piece is stripped back to only one thread after a sudden unexpected change, and we hear this thread spin on its own. The piece invites the listener to hear how a simple second thread reintroduces colour and life into the sound world. Representing how we approach a new beginning as life evolves and takes on splashes of colours once again.

Hearing Weaving of Threads performed at Primrose Potter Salon after many postponements, signifies new beginnings.

This piece would not be possible without the generous commission and support of Melbourne Recital Centre, Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, Ms Jane Kunstler and Syzygy Ensemble.”

VIRAGO by Keyna Wilkins

“I’ve been wanting to write a piece of music to celebrate women leaders for a long time. I was delighted to discover Syzygy Ensemble’s flautist Laila Engle shared similar visions. The title 'Virago' means female warrior in Latin and seemed to exemplify what I was trying to say in one word.

Virago is a meditation on four unique contemporary female leaders who have broken through the traditional societal constraints; Greta Thunberg, Grace Tame, Jacinda Arden, and Angela Merkel. Each movement reflects their inspirational leadership, and includes audio from their speeches. I can't wait to hear it come to life for the first time at the Primrose Potter Salon!

I am grateful to Dianne Finnegan and Jason Catlett for financing the creation of this composition.”

THE TOWER by Anthony Moles

The Tower is the result of a commission responding to the notion of place. Wanting to do an ‘urban’ piece, I chose the iconic Petersham Reservoir as a symbol of the vibrancy of Sydney’s Inner West, having lived in this area for over 10 years.

When visiting the Reservoir, I remembered that I had wanted to do a piece inspired by the tarot. The The Tower tarot represents chaos, the destruction of old structures and the emergence of new, rebirth and beginnings. It occurred to me that The Tower could signify the landmark, the Inner West, and The Tower tarot card.

Although COVID-19 affected the intended concert setting, the work reflects the concert title of Revive better than if I'd planned it.

The writing of The Tower was made possible by the first Echo Commission. This initiative was generously established by composer extraordinaire and Syzygy regular Rosalind Page.”

THE CROSSING OF A SEA by Cyrus Meurant

“Steven Alward was an arts patron and champion of ethical journalism. His career at the ABC included roles as both Head of ABC Radio National, and Head of ABC International News. Steven enjoyed my album Monday to Friday and we began a discussion of the commissioning of a new work. In early 2018 Steven passed, and the idea of a commission was abandoned.

After a discussion with Steven’s partner Mark Wakely, I began writing a commission “in loving memory of Steven Alward”. We agreed the new work should explore universal themes of love, loss and transformation, whilst maintaining a personal connection. For inspiration, I turned to the swimming pool paintings of David Hockney, R.E.M.’s song Nightswimming and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby (Steven’s favourite book). All these works include vivid water imagery.

The new work’s title – The Crossing of a Sea – a poetic metaphor from Tagore, aligns water imagery with notions of an epic journey that was particularly fitting.

Composing The Crossing of a Sea has been a long journey, created against a backdrop of uncertainty, both globally and for the arts. The work aims to be a hopeful message, informed by a strong belief in the power of the arts to renew us all, especially through shared experience."

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