Syzygy Ensemble came into being in the summer of 2009, formed by close friends Laila Engle, Julia Stoppa and Leigh Harrold. Things moved pretty quickly after that – in the following twelve months, Syzygy expanded into a quintet, won first prize in the chamber music section of the Australian Concerto and Vocal Competition, and were the only Australian group selected to compete in the 2011 Gaudeamus International Interpreter’s Award in Amsterdam.

Since then, they’ve gained a reputation as one of the finest new music ensembles in Australia, lauded for their virtuoso precision, innovative programming, and the ability to connect viscerally with their audiences. They were nominated for a Helpmann Award in 2012 for a George Crumb tribute concert, and in 2014 they were the recipients of the Melbourne Recital Centre’s Contemporary Masters Award for their performance of Robert Dzubay’s ‘Kukulkan 2’.

Committed to the heritage works of last century as well as the newest works being written here and now, Syzygy have given critically-acclaimed performances of Schoenberg’s ‘Pierrot Lunaire’ and Messiaen’s ‘Quartet for the End of Time’, as well as being entrusted with the premiere of over 50 new Australian works – most of which have been written especially for them. Apart from having a regular subscription series at the Melbourne Recital Centre, Syzygy has had great success touring regional Australia, allowing remote audiences the chance to experience (and even participate in!) contemporary masterworks such as Schoenberg’s First Chamber Symphony, Riley’s ‘In C’, and Rzewski’s ‘Les Moutons de Panurge’.

Their debut CD, ‘Making Signs’ was released in 2015 to critical acclaim, with The Music Trust calling it “… an important album. Syzygy’s skill, their unity, and their dedication to every piece they perform and study are really special”. Their follow-up album, consisting entirely of works they have commissioned, is scheduled to begin production in 2019.

The success of this piece was not the brute strength required of each performer to master their part and perform it in time with the others – for Syzygy, that was a given – rather, it was the raw humanity that exuded from the ensemble through each bar, each note. The intimacy, warmth and commitment to each other, not just the notes, set these performers apart from their peers. The recital left the audience desperate for more.
— Mary Sheargold, The Flautist
The ensemble was placed in a position of authority over the actors, whether as servant-carers in ‘Miss Donnithorne’s Maggot’ or as soldiers in ‘The Apology of Bony Anderson.’ Having now seen such a performance in the Salon, a room in which every twitch of a musician’s face is clearly visible to the audience, I cannot imagine a chamber opera any other way.
— Matthew Lorenzon, Partial Durations