Heather Percy is an emerging Australian composer based in Canberra. Percy began to pursue composition later in her career as a music educator. Initially she composed short works for her choirs for the purpose of creating music that effectively taught and developed specific musical and choral skills. 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. In 2016 she received her first choral commission from Voices of Birralee, Brisbane. ‘Ne Les Oublions Jamais’ (Let us not forget them) was performed by Birralee Voices ANZAC Day Commemorations Choir in Villers-Bretonneux, the Somme, France, in 2017 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 with a special interest in repertoire for youth and children’s choirs. 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. These include The Song Company, Sydney Chamber Choir, Sydney Conservatorium Chamber Choir, Adelaide Conservatorium Chorale, Brisbane Chamber Choir, Birralee Voices Brisbane and Young Voices of Melbourne. Works by Heather 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. This supported a collaboration between Percy and the Sydney Chamber Choir with the resulting work, Three Night Songs for a cappella choir (SSAATTBB) recorded at the ABC studios in Ultimo, Sydney.
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 young developing instrumentalists and she has just completed a composition for guitarist Steve Allen and cellist David Pereira , title Reverie, which is due to be recorded later in 2022.
Percy is inspired and influenced by early music, especially the sacred choral works of composer’s such as Palestrina and incorporates early music sensibilities and composition techniques within a modernistic harmonic sound-world. 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).
Percy is a Churchill Fellow (The Dame Roma Mitchell Churchill Fellowship for Excellence in Performing Arts 2005) and a graduate of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music (Sydney University) and post-graduate of the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music (Melbourne University) She has recently completed a Masters in Music (Composition) at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music studying with Associate Professor Paul Stanhope.
Photo courtesy of Tyson Sadlo www.tysonsadlo.com