Heather Percy is an emerging Australian composer with a particular affinity for choral and vocal 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 left teaching to be a full-time mother to her young son. Spurred on by her love of vocal music and her desire to continue to contribute musically towards education, she used this time away from teaching to pursue a career focused on choral and vocal composition. Initially she composed for children and youth choirs for the purpose of creating music that effectively taught and developed specific musical and choral skills. Her first choral commission came in 2016 from Voices of Birralee, Brisbane, and her piece Ne les oublions jamais (Let us never forget them) was performed by Voices of Birralee 2017 ANZAC Day Commemoration Choir in Villers-Bretonneux in France as part of the ANZAC Centenary commemorations. Since then, her oeuvre has broadened and now includes complex works for advanced singers and instrumental compositions.
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. Percy has had works performed by many of Australia’s leading vocal ensembles including The Song Company, Brisbane Chamber Choir, Young Voices of Melbourne, Adelaide Conservatorium Chorale and Brisbane Birralee Voices. Works by Heather Percy have also been broadcast on ABC Classic FM including her Sonatina for Flute and Piano, performed by Virginia Taylor (flute) and Daniel de Borah (piano) and most recently, Three Night Songs, performed by the Sydney Chamber Choir. Three Night Songs, commissioned through the inaugural ABC Classic FM and ABC Jazz FM Composer Commissioning Fund 2021 is included on the ABC ‘Women of Note’ CD 2023 and is a finalist in the APRA AMCOS Work of the Year: Choral, 2023.
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