How did you feel when you heard the Festival of Voices was planning a musical celebration to honour you?

For me to be nominated for such a celebration was totally unexpected, so I initially felt stunned, overwhelmed, privileged, thrilled and apprehensive in quick succession. The apprehensionwas caused by the main work to be performed, Conflagration , having yet to prove its worthiness through its premiere.

Don Kay

I imagine the two works to be performed – Conflagration and Songs of Come and Gone – are very different?

Songs of Come and Gone, my very first published work in England, was composed in my mid-20s. I used texts of five well-known English and one Irish poet – I’d yet to properly discover Australian poets! I had young singers in mind, which guided my text choices. Conflagration, on the other hand, is fashioned for adult performers: SATB soloists, mixed chorus, two pianos and six percussionists. It is a major work of 35 to 40 minutes, twice the duration of Songs of Come...