The moon that broke on the fencepost, will not hold.
Desire will not hold. Memory will not hold …
It is an art, this evermore escaping grasp of things

– The Art of Disappearing, from Aria by Sarah Holland-Batt


The fifth portrait album from Sydney composer, Cameron Lam, weaves together the timbre and expressive depth of mezzo soprano Jenny Duck-Chong (Halcyon) and the vibrant connection of the Geist String Quartet to paint a delicate response to the rhythmic and intensely musical poetry of Sarah Holland-Batt’s award-winning first book, Aria.

The Art of Disappearing is a song cycle meditating on the nature of grief. The eight songs, for mezzo soprano and string quartet, together tell stories of reminiscence, loss and grief. The cycle doesn’t present loss as something to solve; instead, it paints the inexorable journey from stasis, as we learn to move again.

Lam explains, “Music is movement to me. In fact, my main trick for composer’s block is to go walking in the same tempo as the sketch I’m working on. That was the striking thing about Sarah’s poetry for me, it was arresting, it stopped me in my tracks – it sang all by itself and I just wanted to add to that.”

Lam interweaves another four pieces into these songs, a series of string quartet interludes contemplating the nature of time. In these movements we hear more cerebral explorations: two pieces played simultaneously (with players jumping between time streams), pulses slowly breaking down, and a melody echoing a duet with itself. These dual themes (grief and time) enhance and reflect each other throughout the album with motives echoing back and forth between tracks.

The Art of Disappearing was recorded by Jayson McBride at Studios 301 in Sydney in November 2018, thanks to the support of Fine Music 102.5FM’s 2018 Stephen Kruger Scholarship.


  1. The Art of Disappearing 1
  2. Tracery
  3. String Quartet No.2, Mvt I:
    Synchronised Time
  4. Meditation on the Plum 1
  5. String Quartet No.2, Mvt II:
    Scattered Like A Broken Crusader
  6. Elegie
  7. Athenian Jar
  8. String Quartet No.2, Mvt III:
    Silence Resonating Into Sound
  9. Enduring Ritual
  10. Meditation on the Plum 2
  11. String Quartet No.2, Mvt IV:
    Which Was Always There
  12. The Art of Disappearing 2


We worked with (name) to create a piece based off of…

We commissioned Melbourne artist Jennifer Reuter to create EP art for the String Quartet, both for the score and the digital EP currently on Spotify, responding to the music and videos as inspiration – see her vibrant final product below.

Jennifer’s thoughts on her work process:

“During the time I worked on Time Echoes Your Sound, I went through a stage of learning the meaning of vulnerability, or a search for close relationships. Naturally, I saw in the music and dance that eerie sense of social disconnect I felt; searching for meaningful interaction, fearing dissonant conflict, and the grief of loneliness to escape it. But Cameron and Louisa’s work is also beautifully abstract, and I have a soft spot making things connect through space-bending ways.”

We commissioned Germany-based Australian choreographer and film-maker Louisa Poletti to create a four-episode video series called “Time Echoes Your Sound”, based on Cameron’s string quartet.


ComposerCameron Lam
PoetSarah Holland-Batt
(Aria published by University of Queensland Press)
Mezzo SopranoJenny Duck-Chong (Halcyon)
Geist String Quartet:
ViolinSonia Wilson, Mia Stanton
ViolaHayasa Tanaka
CelloJames Larsen
Audio Engineer & ProducerJayson McBride
Album Artists:
Art of DisappearingLuke Moseley
Time Echoes Your SoundJennifer Reuter
Choreographer & FilmmakerLouisa Poletti
<strong>CAMERON LAM</strong>

Cameron Lam is a freelance composer, the Artistic Director of Sydney-based hybrid-art production company, Kammerklang, and the Art Music Specialist at the Australasian Performing Rights Association (APRA AMCOS). After completing his Bachelor of Music Composition (Honours) at the Sydney Conservatorium, Cameron’s career has focused on collaboration, interdisciplinary practice, and entrepreneurship. 

He is proud to be an Australian Music Centre represented composer, Fine Music 102.5FM’s 2018 Stephen Kruger Scholar, and featured in US publisher NewMusicShelf’s recent ‘Anthology of New Music for Mezzo Soprano’.  

<strong>SARAH HOLLAND-BATT</strong>

Sarah Holland-Batt is an award-winning poet, editor, critic and academic. Born in Southport, Australia in 1982, she grew up in Australia and the United States, and has lived in in Italy and Japan. Her first book, Aria, was the recipient of several literary prizes, including the Anne Elder Award, the Arts ACT Judith Wright Poetry Prize and the Thomas Shapcott Prize, was shortlisted in both the New South Wales and Queensland Premiers’ Literary Awards, and was commended for The Age’s Poetry Book of the Year. 

She has worked as an editorial consultant for publishing houses New Directions and Atria Books in New York City, and presently lives in Brisbane, where she is an Associate Professor at QUT, and the poetry editor of Island magazine. She is the editor of Black Inc.’s The Best Australian Poems 2016 and The Best Australian Poems 2017. 

<strong>JENNY DUCK-CHONG</strong>

With a career spanning more than 25 years, Mezzo soprano Jenny Duck-Chong has established herself as a versatile and intelligent musician with extensive experience in a broad range of classical repertoire. As a soloist, she has been acclaimed for her intense and dramatic portrayals of tragic heroines, such as Purcell’s Dido, Monteverdi’s Arianna and Britten’s Phaedra, her stylistic renderings of Baroque masterworks as well as her formidable and engaging performances of contemporary works such as Ligeti’s Sippàl, Dobbàl, Nahigeduvel, Macmillan’s Raising Sparks, Benjamin’s Upon Silence and Berio’s Folksongs. 

In recent years, Jenny has focused her attention on more intimate chamber repertoire, in particular in the field of new music. With soprano Alison Morgan, she established Halcyon in 1998, an ensemble renowned for innovative programming and exemplary contemporary vocal chamber music performance.  With Halcyon, she has premiered numerous Australian and international works by both acclaimed and emerging composers and commissioned many new works, including 21 new Australian commissions under the title Kingfisher: Songs for Halcyon to celebrate their 15th birthday.  

<strong>GEIST STRING QUARTET</strong>

Formed in 2015, the Geist String Quartet has quickly established itself as one of Sydney’s preeminent young ensembles. Following festival performances at Frenswegen (Germany), Orford (Canada), Turin and Verona (Italy), and Bangalow (Australia), the Geist Quartet has received praise for their interpretations of Mozart, Beethoven, and 20th century works. 

As recipients of the Westheimer String Quartet Fellowship, Ernest V. Llewellyn Memorial Fund Award, and Mary Vallentine Prize, the quartet has been able to travel to ensemble development programmes across Germany, the U.S.A, Canada, and Australia. Through these programmes, the Geist Quartet has worked with artists and mentors including Eberhard Feltz, Sara Bitlloch, Monica Curro, Oliver Wille, William Coleman, and the Kuss, St Lawrence, London Haydn, and Elias quartets. 

The quartet has presented concerts in Sydney, Melbourne, and across regional New South Wales. A tour throughout central western NSW with David Miller OAM allowed the quartet to perform in a number of towns and cities as well as work with children in regional schools. 

<strong>JAYSON McBRIDE</strong>

Jayson is a Sydney based freelance audio engineer/producer and musician who specialises in classical, jazz and other acoustic music, and is passionately committed to the creation of recordings that are sonically beautiful, technically excellent and aesthetically appropriate. His output encompasses live concerts recordings, studio recordings, CD releases, live radio broadcasts and the creation of online content. He has engineered and produced numerous recordings of Australian and international artists and recorded in all the major acoustic music venues in Sydney.

His professional experience is reinforced by his qualifications in sound recording and music performance, as well as 25 years experience as a classical musician and music educator. He holds a Master of Music Studies (Creative Sound Production) from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, a Post Graduate Diploma in Performance from the Royal College of Music London, a Bachelor of Music (Performance) from the Western Australian Conservatorium of Music, and a Graduate Diploma of Education from Edith Cowan University.