Erin Helyard has been acclaimed as an inspiring conductor, a virtuosic and expressive performer of the harpsichord and fortepiano, and as 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 University) on fortepiano for 2009–10, and from 2003 to 2012 was a core member of Montreal’s award-winning Ensemble Caprice.
As Artistic Director and co-founder of Pinchgut Opera and the Orchestra of the Antipodes, he has forged new standards of excellence in historically informed performance in Australia. Operas under his direction were awarded Best Opera at the Helpmann Awards for three consecutive years (2015–17), and in 2017 he was awarded a Helpmann for Best Music Direction for Handel’s Saul at the Adelaide Festival in a fêted revival of the Glyndebourne production directed by Barrie Kosky.
Pinchgut Opera’s world-premiere production of the 1740 Dresden version of Hasse’s Artaserse received Best Rediscovered Work at the 2019 International Opera Awards in London.
Erin has conducted from the keyboard operas by composers as varied as Handel, Vivaldi, Cavalli, Monteverdi, Rameau, Vinci, Hasse, Charpentier, Salieri and Grétry, and he often creates new performing editions of operas from 18th-century sources. He has also distinguished himself as the conductor of dynamic performances with the Adelaide, Tasmanian and Queensland Symphony Orchestras and the Australian Haydn Ensemble.
Erin regularly collaborates with the Australian Chamber Orchestra, and duets in 19th-century repertoire on historical pianos with renowned Alkan exponent Stephanie McCallum. On fortepiano and harpsichord he was recently described as ‘Australia’s most engaging soloist’ by Limelight magazine.
In 2017 Erin was awarded a major Australian Research Council Discovery Grant for a collaborative project entitled Performing Transdisciplinarity: Image, Music, and Text in Eighteenth-Century Print Culture. In 2018 he was recognised with a Music and Opera Singers Trust Achievement Award (MAA) for his contribution to the arts in Australia.