As the world began to power down in early 2020, composing music kept Elliott Gyger sane.

“Across the whole of [the pandemic], where we had a lot of lockdowns, particularly in Melbourne, I actually wrote a lot of music. It helped me to get through,” he says.

“Locking myself away at home to write music is actually quite a normal thing!”

Elliott Gyger

Elliott Gyger. Image supplied.

Gyger received the 2022 Paul Lowin Song Cycle Prize for Autobiochemistry, a pre-pandemic work for mezzo-soprano and cello. Commissioned by new music ensemble Halcyon, it set 13 poems by Tricia Dearborn, each centred around a chemical element and its function.

“Although the topic might seem very scientific and removed, in fact, her poems are anything but. They’re very tangible, they’re very personal and quite intimate,” says Gyger.

His new solo viola work, Solitaire – drawn from his prolific lockdown collection – will debut this month at the Canberra International Music Festival. Fascinatingly, it is part of a concert featuring three world premieres that explore the viola as a solo instrument. It will be performed alongside