Music in the time of Covid

Writing music and having concerts in the time of Covid19 by Alan Holley


“All of my colleagues in the composition and performance fields have found 2020 catastrophic for work and the pursuance of their art.”


I found myself writing for solo performers as concerts that included some of my chamber music, and including premieres in Australia, Japan and in several European countries, were all cancelled. A new solo piccolo work, SoPi, was written for and recorded by the principal piccolo in Belgrade Philharmonic Snjezana Pavicevic.

I composed two songs to texts by Mark Tredinnick First Light, and William Blake – The Clod and the Pebble, for the Melbourne soprano Amelia Jones and they were ‘premiered’ on YouTube.

As Sydney slowly emerged from the lockdown in July 2020 I looked at ways to create performance outlets for my music and that of my fellow composers both here and overseas. An obvious solution was to have an outdoor concert on the park in front of my house and only invite 20 people.

So, on August 2, in a Covid-19 compliant event, Richard Rourke, clarinet and trumpeter Hattie Channon performed to an appreciative and supportive audience on Harbord Park (Sydney). The three trumpet works that Harriet Channon performed were The Sky is Brass – Alan Holley (public premiere), Heat, dedicated to Hattie by Eve Duncan (Melbourne) and La Variazione Enigmatica by Andrian Pertout (Melbourne). Over the last couple of years Harriet had given the premieres of all three works either ‘live’ or on YouTube.  Richard performed Stravinsky and my clarinet solo the birds will sing them off accompanied joyously by the local parrots. It was great to perform new music again when so much has been cancelled over the last five months.

2nd August concert with Hattie Channon

Richard reprised the birds will sing them off at a house concert for 10 people in Pymble (Sydney) on October 6. I felt like music was seeping back into my world.

Alan Holley with Richard Rourke


I started to plan a program for a second ‘park’ recital and I chose to contact composers in Europe. I approached two of the leading younger generation composers in Albania – Enis Mullaj and Ergis Spahiu. Both write music that has a strongly independent voice and deeply immersed in the culture of their place. I also asked Andrian Pertout to write a new solo for trombone and he has created a work that will surely go into the repertoire of trombone soloists everywhere.






Due to rain, our ‘Music from Australia and Albania for solo brass’ was performed as a house concert with Gregory van der Struik, principal trombone with the Australian Opera and freelance trumpeter Dan Henderson. A small and enthusiastic audience cheered the music along!

Greg van der Struik, Alan Holley and Dan Henderson




















Program for October 18, 2020
Music in Freshwater

A concert of solos for brass in Covid 19 times

Gregory van der Struik – trombone
Dan Henderson – trumpet

for Harri (premiere) – Alan Holley
Ornithologia – Alan Holley
TORA (premiere) – Ergis Spahiu
Circles (premiere) – Enis Mullaj
Heron Creek – Alan Holley
Summer Bird – Alan Holley
Absent in a State of Flow (premiere) – Andrian Pertout



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