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Heather Percy : Associate Artist

I have always been intrinsically drawn to early music, especially choral music from the Renaissance. This has been influential on my compositional style which is an amalgam of early music sensibilities set within a modern harmonic sound-world.

Photo of Heather Percy

Photo: Keith Saunders

Percy is a Canberra-based composer with a particular affinity for choral music, drawing on her own extensive experience as a director of choirs and music educator. She draws influence and inspiration from early music and incorporates early music sensibilities and composition techniques within a modernistic harmonic sound-world into her writing. Limelight magazine described Percy's Locus Iste (after Bruckner) as 'cool and jazzy with diverging chromatics and harmonies which pivot on a pinpoint, seemingly ending suspended in thin air'(Limelight Shamistha de Soysa on 21 March, 2022).

In 2014, Percy decided to leave teaching to be a full-time mother to her young son. Spurred on by her love of choral music and her desire to continue to contribute musically towards education, Percy used this time away from teaching to continue to develop her skills as a composer. Initially she composed short works for children and youth choirs for the purpose of creating music that effectively taught and developed specific musical and choral skills. In 2016 Voices of Birralee commissioned her to compose a work for the 2017 Voices of Birralee ANZAC Commemorations Choir. 'Ne Les Oublions Jamais' (Let us not forget them) was performed in 2017 at Villers-Bretonneux, the Somme, France, as part of the ANZAC Centenary Celebrations.

With her own experience as a chorister and choral director, it is not surprising that most of Percy's compositions are scored for choral forces. Several of Percy's choral works have been chosen as set pieces for eisteddfods, presented at professional development workshops and events and performed by some of Australia's leading choirs and choral organisations including The Song Company, Sydney Chamber Choir, Sydney Conservatorium Chamber Choir, Adelaide Conservatorium Chorale, Brisbane Chamber Choir, Brisbane Birralee Voices and Young Voices of Melbourne. Works by Percy have also been broadcast on ABC Classic FM.

In 2021, Percy was a recipient of the inaugural ABC Classic FM and ABC Jazz FM Composer Commissioning Fund which supported a collaboration between Percy and the Sydney Chamber Choir. The resulting work, Three Night Songs for a cappella choir (SSAATTBB) was recorded by ABC Classics and is included on the ABC Women of Note CD (Vol. 5). Three Night Songs won the 2023 Art Music Award for Work of the Year: Choral, presented by APRA AMCOS and the Australian Music Centre.

Percy's instrumental works include the Sonatina for Flute and Piano (2019), composed for Australian flautist Virginia Taylor and pianist Daniel de Borah. Recently, Percy was commissioned by Allegro Publishing, Sydney, to compose music for their Lyrical Legends Series, a series aimed at developing instrumentalists.

Percy was awarded The Dame Roma Mitchell Churchill Fellowship for Excellence in Performing Arts in 2005 and recently completed a Masters in Music (Composition) at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music studying with Paul Stanhope.

Heather Percy — current to August 2023

Awards & Prizes

Year Award Placing Awarded for
2023 Art Music Awards: Work of the Year: Choral Winner Three Night Songs

Selected Commissions

  Work Commission Details
Digital sheet music sample Three Night Songs : for a cappella SSAATTBB choir (2021) Commissioned by ABC Classics.
Lazy Afternoon : flute with piano (2020) Commissioned by Karen North.
Digital sheet music sample In the Forest : for SATB choir and piano (2020) Commissioned by Erzsi Marosszeky and The Joubert Singers of Hunters Hill, Sydney.
Digital sheet music sample Ne les oublions jamais : Let us Never Forget Them (2016) with support from the ANZAC Centenary Community Arts Program