Helpmann Award winning Erin Helyard has been acclaimed as an inspiring conductor, a virtuosic and expressive performer of the harpsichord and fortepiano, and a lucid scholar who is passionate about promoting discourse between musicology and performance.
Erin graduated in harpsichord performance from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music with first-class honours and the University Medal. He completed his Masters in fortepiano performance and a PhD in Musicology with Tom Beghin at the Schulich School of Music, McGill University, Montreal. He was named the Westfield Concert Scholar (Cornell) on fortepiano for 2009-2010 and from 2003 to 2012 Erin was a central member of the award-winning Ensemble Caprice (Montreal). Helyard is particularly active in reviving in both score and performance neglected seventeenth- and eighteenth-century opera.
As Artistic Director and co-founder of the celebrated Pinchgut Opera and the Orchestra of the Antipodes (Sydney) he has forged new standards of excellence in historically-informed performance in Australia. He has conducted from the keyboard performances of Purcell’s Fairy Queen (Montreal Baroque Festival), Cavalli’s L’Ormindo, Purcell’s Dioclesian, Vivaldi’s Griselda, Cavalli’s Giasone, Salieri’s The Chimney Sweep, Vivaldi’s Bajazet, Grétry’s L’amant jaloux, Handel’s Theodora, Rameau’s Anacréon, Vinci’s Erighetta e Don Chilone and Rameau’s Pigmalion (Pinchgut), Handel’s Acis and Galatea (NZ Opera), Handel’s Orlando (Hobart Baroque), Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, and Handel’s Faramondo and Agrippina for Brisbane Baroque.
In 2017 he conducted the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra for Handel’s Saul at the Adelaide Festival in a fêted revival of a Glyndebourne production directed by Barrie Kosky; he received the Helpmann Award for Best Music Direction in 2017 for this production. Three operas under his direction won Best Opera at the Helpmann Awards in 2015, 2016, and 2017.
Helyard duets in nineteenth-century repertoire on historical pianos with renowned Alkan exponent Stephanie McCallum and on fortepiano and harpsichord he has recently been described as “Australia’s most engaging soloist” by Limelight magazine. Erin also appears as guest conductor and keyboard soloist with the Australian Haydn Ensemble. In 2017 Helyard was awarded a major Australian Research Council Discovery Grant for a collaborative project with colleagues at the University of Sydney, Oxford University, and the Australian National University (Performing Transdisciplinarity: Image, Music, and Text in Eighteenth-Century Print Culture). He is currently Senior Lecturer at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music and appears by kind courtesy of that institution.
His research interests include historical performance practice, eighteenth-century music, seventeenth- to nineteenth-century opera, intersections of music and capitalism, Ancient Greek music, the cultural life of the piano, Bourdieu, music and philosophy, the history of music notation, re-mixes and revisions, and topics related to the body, gender, sexuality, and feminism.