Elysium Ensemble

How sweet a thing it is to wear a crown,
Within whose circuit is Elysium
And all that poets feign of bliss and joy!

William Shakespeare—Henry VI, Part III (c.1590)

The Elysium Ensemble is an Early Music group from Australia specialising in music from the 17th- and 18th centuries. It has been acclaimed by critics for its elegant performances, fine musicianship and authoritative interpretations of music from the Baroque and Classical periods.

This special ensemble embodies the concept of elysium (defined in the 17th century as a state of ideal happiness) by bringing together musicians whose awareness of the stylistic demands of the repertoire is combined with a mastery of period instruments. The ensemble’s performances are indicative of the freshness and spontaneity which the musicians bring to this collaboration through discussion, rehearsal, experimentation and research.

Founded in 1985 by Greg Dikmans, the Elysium Ensemble has a flexible format drawn from Australasia’s leading period instrument specialists who perform an extensive repertoire including chamber music and orchestral works. Lucinda Moon is a core member who has collaborated with Greg for many years in the artistic and musical direction of the ensemble.

From 1989 to 2002 the ensemble presented an annual concert series in Melbourne that established its reputation as one of Australia’s finest chamber ensembles. The Melbourne series included a one-day Baroque Festival from 1998-1993 that involved guest artists and ensembles from Australia and overseas.

Elysium Ensemble ( 1989 )

Elysium Ensemble in 1989

Greg Dikmans | Geoffrey Burgess | Julie Hewison | John O‘Donnell | Roger Glanville-Hicks
Miriam Morris | Gerald English | Lucinda Moon | Rachael Beesley

The ensemble has also performed extensively in Australia, including concerts for organisations such as Musica Viva and the Victorian Arts Centre, concerts for educational institutions such as Melbourne, Monash, La Trobe and Deakin Universities, and appearances at major music festivals.

In addition to its own CDs, the Elysium Ensemble has made numerous live broadcasts and concert recordings for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and public FM radio stations.

The Elysium Ensemble’s standing as one of Australia’s finest chamber ensembles and its important contribution to the Early Music Revival in Australia has been recognised by entries in The Oxford Companion to Australian Music (Melbourne: OUP, 1997).

Elysium Ensemble ( 2008 )

Elysium Ensemble - St Paul's Anglican Church, Geelong - 24 April 2008

Elysium Ensemble—St Paul's Anglican Church, Geelong—24 April 2008. Photo: Albert Comper
Greg Dikmans | Lucinda Moon | Donald Nicolson | Laura Vaughan

Music Festivals

The Elysium Ensemble has appeared at the following music festivals:

Barossa Music Festival (1995)
The Elysium Ensemble was the featured ensemble, appearing over the entire two weeks of the festival presenting 7 different programs in 11 concerts. The repertoire included chamber music, concertos and Purcell’s opera The Indian Queen.
Melbourne Festival (1992 & 2000)
In 1992 we presented a program of concertos and cantatas (including Bach’s Coffee Cantata) in the brand new St Johns Lutheran Church to celebrate the opening of the Southbank precinct.
In 2000 we joined with several of the world’s finest Early Music ensembles to perform in the Bach 2000 project, presenting a concert of four Bach Cantatas (in collaboration with Choir of Trinity College), as well as Bach’s Musical Offering.
Recorder '87, '90 and '95 Festivals
These festivals brought together professional and amateur recorder players from all over the world to participate in concerts, masterclasses and workshops.
Melbourne International Festival of Organ and Harpsichord (1988-90, 1992, 1994, 1996)
As well as performing various programs of chamber music, we also presented the Festival opening concert of Baroque concertos and orchestral works (with international guest artists) in 1992, 1994 and 1996.
Melbourne Autumn Music Festival (1999, 2000 & 2002)
The Melbourne International Festival of Organ and Harpsichord (MIFOH) changed its name to the Melbourne Autumn Music Festival (MAMF), but the music played on.
Castlemaine State Festival (1990)
A concert of concertos by Bach and Vivaldi at the historic Castlemaine Market.
Sacred Heart Early Music Festival (1995 & 1996) / Melbourne Early Music Festival (1998)
The 1996 concert, held in the magnificient Sacred Heart Church, St Kilda, was a program of French chamber music and at the last minute we decided to perform by candlelight alone. The atmosphere this created in the dark spaces of this large church was magical, but the music was difficult to read!
Four Winds Easter Festival (Bermagui, NSW - 1997)
We performed the first program of Baroque music ever presented at this festival. The performance was outdoors in a ‘venue’ that is a mini version of the Myer Music Bowl in Melbourne. The acoustic was surprisingly good and the views were magnificent, but the wind and insects made life interesting.
Les Nuit d’Éte Festival - Sydney (1996)
A concert of French chamber music at the State Theatre titled ‘Music for Kings and Queens’ as part of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Festival. We finally got our name in lights!
Organs of the Ballarat Goldfields Festival (1999)
A concert including Bach’s 4th Brandenburg Concerto and Suite in B minor performed in the lovely St Andrews Kirk, Ballarat, with guest artists Genevieve Lacey (recorder) and Barbara Baird (harpsichord - USA).
Music in the Round (1986-87, 1989 & 1991)
Organised by the Australian Musicians’ Guild, the Music in the Round chamber music festivals were a Melbourne institution.