ANTARCTIC MUSIC

Launched: 21 January 2001. Last updated: 1 April 2013.



ALL's WELL—Songs for the Scott Centenary

Jake Wilson has recently released his CD—All's Well—to commemorate the Scott Centenary. It's getting a lot of attention and praise. You can play five of the songs on his website. The CD (with a booklet) is £6; a download is £5.

There's a nice review on a University of Cambridge website.

"Jake Wilson is a folk-rock guitarist and songwriter in the Richard Thompson mould. As well as performing his own material, Jake currently plays with ex-Fairport Convention folk fiddle legend, Dave Swarbrick, who has described him as 'one of the best guitarists and songwriters around today'."
Source: www.jakewilsonmusic.com

"100 years ago, Captain Robert Falcon Scott and his polar party all died on their return journey from the South Pole. To mark the centenary, Jake has composed "All's Well", a cycle of songs written from the point of view of these five extraordinary men: Edgar Evans, Lawrence Oates, Edward Wilson, Henry Bowers, and Captain Scott himself.
The songs have been fully endorsed by the Scott Polar Research Institute and have been described as "a cultural masterpiece for the Scott centenary". "All's Well" is dedicated to Jake's mother and his friend, the writer Russell Hoban, both of whom died in 2011.
On Thursday 18th January 1912, a British team led by Captain Robert Falcon Scott arrived at the South Pole, travelling on foot and dragging their equipment and provisions behind them on a sledge. There they discovered that a Norwegian team headed by Roald Amundsen had reached the Pole one month earlier, using sledges pulled by teams of dogs.
None of the British team survived the gruelling 900-mile journey back from the Pole: Edgar Evans collapsed on February 17th; Lawrence Oates walked to his death on March 17th, to avoid slowing his companions down as his condition deteriorated; and Edward Wilson, Henry Bowers and Scott himself died in their tent at the end of March, after being trapped by a blizzard for several days without food and fuel, just 11 miles from their next depot.
A search party found this tent eight months later. Rather than disturbing the three bodies inside it, the tent was collapsed and a large snow cairn was built over it, topped with a cross and flanked by a pair of upright sledges. The bodies of Evans and Oates could not be found.
These songs were inspired by the journals, letters and biographies of all five men and attempt to capture their thoughts and feelings as they realise that their deaths are inevitable."
Source: www.jakewilsonmusic.com
(3 May 2012)



TERRA NOVA by iLIKETRAiNS ON YouTube

I just had my first experience with YouTube thanks to an e-mail from Jeroen Francois. He suggested I have a look at this video from the British rock group iLIKETRAiNS; he also included the lyrics which are below. The song and video are about Scott's Last Expedition. The group's website is www.iliketrains.co.uk at which you can play the song and the video, or you can go to YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hoHloQFJNvs.
How could I
Have led these men to their demise
And they just follow?
Exploration's last great prize
It wasn't mine

And mores the shame
You will remember my name

Great god
This is an awful place
And I do not think that we can hope
For any better things now
Oh the end
Cannot be far
It cannot be far
I cannot wait
Explorations last great prize
A saving grace
It wasn't mine

And mores the shame
You will remember my name

--Thanks to Jeroen Francois (www.hetlaatstecontinent.be)
(14 January 2007)



OUR RETIRED EXPLORER (DINES WITH MICHEL FOLCAULT IN PARIS, 1961)

I was told about this song that is sung by a group called The Weakerthans, apparently famous in a music world I know nothing about. I have no idea what it might sound like, but here are the lyrics:

Just one more drink and then I should be on my way home.
I'm not entirely sure what you're talking about.
I've had a really nice time, but my dogs need to be fed.
I must say that in the right light you look like Shackleton.
Comment allez-vous ce soir? Je suis comme ci comme ça.
Yes, a penguin taught me French back in Antarctica.
I could show you the way shadows colonize snow.
Ice breaking up on the bay off the Lassiter coast.
Light failing over the pole as every longitude leads up to your frost bitten
    feet.
Oh, you're very sweet, thank you for the flowers and the book by Derrida, but I
    must be getting back to dear Antarctica.
Say, do you have a ship and a dozen able men that maybe you could lend me?
Source: http://www.sing365.com
(9 December 2006)



TWO SONGS FROM AN OPERATION DEEPFREEZE SONGBOOK (1971)

F-U-S-A-R-P
Tune: Mother

F is for the friendly men around you
U is what we all have come to see
S is for the sex we do without dear
A is for your availability
R is for your spotless reputation
P is for your splendid purity

Put them all together they spell FUSARP
Oh female USARP come to me


FEEDING THE DOGS
Tune: All I need

All I need's a fat old seal and a club to beat his head
All I need's a couple dogs, to eat him when he's dead.

All I need's a length of chain to keep them dogs apart
Otherwise them friendly dogs will tear themselves apart.

Well I went out to feed the dogs just the other night
Well the mean lead dog he got loose and dragged me out of sight.

He went over hill and dale into a mean crevasse
So I bit his nose and bit his ear and kicked him in the rear.

Well he looked up at me and smiled and wagged his tail and begged
So I got up and turned around and he bit me in the leg.

When we got home I fixed him good, pulled out all his teeth
So now we feed him oatmeal, while the other dogs eat meat.

(Repeat first verse)

--Thanks to Billy-Ace Baker
(4 February 2004)


Michael Smith came upon this Shackleton song. It appeared recently in the May 2003 issue of the James Caird Society Newsletter.

THE SOUTH POLE; OR THE BOUNDING BOUNDER
by Randolph King & Harry Lauder

They call me quiet Sandy, 'cause I like to be alone.
I love the bounding, bouncing wave, the ocean is my home
I could tell you lots o'tales you never heard afore
So when I tell you what I'm gaun to tell, ye'll simply roar.
Chorus
Out on the bounding ocean, over the bounding sea,
Bounding over the bounding wave, that's the place for me
I'm a bounding bounder when I'm bounding over the sea,
Up the north o' the Firth o' Forth I bound on the bounding sea.
Verse 2
The tales I often tell my friends they cause them great surprise,
But what's the good of telling tales when they say you're telling lies?
Now, I'm a chap that wouldn't lie, the truth is eas'ly said,
The only time I ever lie is when I lie in bed.

Spoken:
And what I'm going to tell you is the truth, and if you haven't heard about it, well

it's time you did hear about it. But you must have heard about - No?- well, I'll tell you how

Shackleton and I nearly discovered the South Pole. It was one Sunday morning - No- I'm

telling a lie - it was a Saturday morning, 'cause I had borrowed a couple of bob, and had

rushed into this little refreshment place, where Shackleton introduced himself and asked me

what I would have. Well I needn't tell you he was just in time to save my two bob, I said,

'What are you having yourself, Shack? He said, 'Oh, I'm having a small liqueur'. I said,

'Well, I'll have a large one.' So I scoffed it off quick. So Shack gave the waiter a wink

to fetch another. [hic]. So I scoffed it off too. So Shack said to me, 'You seem to be very dry,

Sandy.' I said, 'Yes, sir, I'm always dry in the morning.' He said, 'What's the cause of

that?' I said, 'It's because I don't drink enough at night.' However, Shack said, 'Sandy,

you're the swiftest drinker I've ever seen.' I said, 'Shack, I run no risks, I once got my glass

knocked over.' So Shack said, ' I see you're sea-faring man.'

I said, 'Yes, I'm a jelly-fish catcher.' He said, ' How would you like to go to the South Pole?' I said, 'All right, Shack.'

So Shack said, 'Be at the ship to-morrow at 10.30.' So I was there at 10.30. So Shack said,

'Well, what would you like to do during the voyage?' I said, 'Steer the wheel'. So when we

got out into the open, I said, 'What road are you going to take, Shack?' He said, 'Bear to

the left, take the first turning to the right.' So after being at the wheel for six weeks, one

morning I heard a voice shouting 'Reverse!' So I reversed, and the twist I gave the wheel

done it no good. She turned around three times, then skidded. Then Shack came running up

on deck, and said, 'You blethering fool! did you not see the iceberg?'. I said, 'No, I thought

it was a London fog.' However, we prepared to search for the Pole. So after we provisioned,

Shack had two bottles o' stout, and I had three bottles o' Dewar's and a biscuit, we went in

search of the Pole. So we couldn't find it nowhere; so we started hunting. I killed three bears,

two walrus, Shack killed one seal and three wee whales, and then we made tracks for the ship.

So on the road, Shack said, 'I smell something.' I said, 'It's a taxi.' He said, 'No, I don't

think it is; anyway/ he said, 'I see a light.' I said, 'That's right, Shack; it's the tail lamp, you

see.' But we didn't meet up on it, so when we got on board, Shack said, 'What do you think we

should do, Sandy?' I said, 'Let us go home and say we have found the Pole, and if they don't

believe us, well, we can refuse to discuss the matter - unless the Zoological Society compels us;

and if we are ordered to go before the board, we can go singing ...........

Chorus
Out on the bounding ocean, over the bounding sea,
Bounding over the bounding wave, that's the place for me
I'm a bounding bounder when I'm bounding over the sea,
Up the north o' the Firth o' Forth I bound on the bounding sea.

Courtesy Michael Smith, who would be delighted to know the date when this was written and whether it was performed.
(3 September 2003)

UPDATE: Katharine Whisler e-mails to say "…it was performed! You can find a recording of him performing this song on the Library of Congress website: http://www.loc.gov/jukebox/recordings/detail/id/1808."
(1 April 2013)



THE SCOTIA SUITE OF SCOTTISH COUNTRY DANCES

From the title page: "The Scotia Suite of Scottish Country Dances honouring the achievements of William Speirs Bruce and commemorating the voyage of the Scotia, the research vessel of the Scottish National Antarctic Expedition 1902-1904. Dances devised by Roy Goldring. Music composed and arranged by Muriel Johnstone for the Scotia Centenary Programme of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society in collaboration with the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society."
Published by the Royal Scottish Geographical Societym 40 George Street, Glasgow G1 1QE, in collaboration with the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society, 12 Coates Crescent, Edinburgh EH3 7AF. c.2002. [15] pp. Wrappers. £10.

Seven pieces are included, music and dance instructions: 1. Antarctica Bound (jig); 2. Scotia Sea (reel); 3. The Ice Cap (Strathspey); 4. Coats Land (jig); 5. Bruce's Men (Strathspey); 6. The Piper and the Penguin (reel); and Speirs Bruce--The Pole Star (jig).

There's also a complementery CD: Music for the Scotia Centenary. It includes the above dances plus Pipe Music (composed and performed by Ian MacInnes) and "South" (see item below), composed by Gordon McPherson and performed by The National Youth Orchestra of Scotland. Conductor: Nicolae Moldoveanu. Recorded by BBC Radio 3 at a public performance on 24th July 2002 at the Symphony Hall, Birmingham. Available for £12 from either the Royal Scottish Geographical Society or the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society, addresses above. The music and the CD together are offered at £20. The on-line store at the RSGS can supply both [www.geo.ed.ac.uk/~rsgs/shop.html#Music].

--R. Stephenson
(28 May 2003)



SOME ANTARCTIC MUSIC OFFERINGS

The Seventh Continent, the always interesting newsletter issued by Valmar Kurol and his colleagues at the Montreal Antarctic Society, often devotes some space to Antarctic music. The latest issue (no. 13, spring 2003) is no exception. In the section entitled 'Sound Ideas,' the following are described and reviewed:

- Music for the Scotia Centenary. [See next item]
- The Songs of the 'Morning': a Musical Sketch by G.S. Doorly. [See below]
- The Film Music of Ralph Vaughan Williams Volume I.
- Antarctic Dreams by Mack Bailey and Karen Ronne.
- A Granite Scale by Ironia.
- Parallel Path by Harrison Edwards.
- Antarctic Antics - Penguin Poems and Songs by Judy Sierra, music by Scotty Huff and Robert Reynolds.
- The Icestock 2001 Project.
- Atlantis Ascendant by Bal-Sagoth.
- The Everyday Separation by Absinthe Blind.
To contact the Society see 'Antarctic Organizations' elsewhere on this site.
--R. Stephenson
(18 April 2003)



MUSIC FOR THE SCOTIA CENTENARY

"The National Youth Orchestra of Scotland and the Royal Scottish Geographical Society (RSGS) jointly commissioned a special work South written by Dundee composer Gordon McPherson. This was performed at three Scottish and two English venues as well as in Amsterdam."
--From POLAR WHISPERS, the newsletter of the New Zealand Antarctic Society, Issue 19, November 2002.
For more on Scotia Centenary events and exhibits, see 'Upcoming Antarctic Events' elsewhere on this site.
(20 January 2003)


QUERY

Paul Smith in York, UK, e-mails the following query:

"Would you be able to help on a couple of questions I have please? I wonder if you know of . . . 'Tis A Story That Shall Live For Ever . . . . written in 1913 and described as . . . .In Memoriam of Captain Scott and His Heroic Comrades. A descriptive song and recitation written and composed by Paul Pelham and Lawrence Wright and sung by George Leyton. I would love to know if this has ever been recorded or if this would just have been sung at some ceremony or other event after the news of Scott's death. I have the music to this."

Anyone with information for Paul can forward it to him through me [rstephenson@adelphia.net].
--R. Stephenson
(17 November 2002)

UPDATE: Curious about this, I did a websearch and came up with the following at http://www.jabw.demon.co.uk/zwarg.htm:

Artist: Robert Carr
Title/Composer: ' Tis a story that shall live forever (Lawrence Wright / Paul Pelham)
Label: KAL Matrix: E 2071 5
Recording date: 19xx
Place: LON
Other data: Pioneer 124
--R. Stephenson
(29 November 2002)

Valmar Kurol (Montreal Antarctic Society) came up with the same information as well as: "Mr. Carr lived between 1881-1948. I don't know what year it was recorded."

Paul Smith e-mailed back to say: "I did find out that a recording was made on an Edison 4 min Blue Amberol Cylinder BA 23094 by Stanley Kirkby 1913."

He includes the words from the sheet music:

In Memoriam of
CAPTAIN SCOTT AND HIS HEROIC COMRADES
'TIS A STORY THAT SHALL LIVE FOR EVER

Descriptive Song and Recitation

What a glorious tale again is told
Of heroism grand,
Of British men with British hearts,
Out in the Great White Land,
A band of heroes, brave and true,
See standing, side by side,
Amidst eternal ice and snow,
All faithful till they died.

CHORUS
'Tis a story that shall live for ever,
As long as the world shall be,
Of the men who died side by side,
Over the frozen sea;
All honour to the Sons of England,
Inscribed shall be each name,
In letters bold of brightest gold,
On the Nation's Scroll of Fame.
'Tis a Fame

What a glorious lesson to be learn'd,
The mem'ry shall remain,
Their great and noble sacrifice
Can never be in vain,
And tho' no sculptured monument
Can mark their resting place,
Their deeds have rais'd a monument
That time cannot efface.

CHORUS
'Tis a story that shall live for ever,
As long as the world shall be,
Of the men who died side by side,
Over the frozen sea;
All honour to the Sons of England,
Inscribed shall be each name,
In letters bold of brightest gold,
On the Nation's Scroll of Fame.
'Tis a Fame

Recitation after 2nd Verse (The refrain to be played PP. Throughout.)

I can see a sturdy little ship,
Breasting the ocean wave,
I can see a little band of men,
Eager, strong and brave,
I can see the Ice-bound coast line,
Of that grim and silent shore,
And then the icy desert,
Where the deadly blizzards roar,
The last farewells are spoken,
For some of them must go,
Into the unknown perils,
Of a wilderness of snow.

And then a blank as months go by,
And who can tell the tale.
Of how that gallant band of men--
Succeeded, but to fail,
Of one who bore up 'till the last,
Then left without "Goodbye!"
Just the words: -- "I'm going out"
Then staggered out -- to die,
No wailing at their cruel fate,
No counting up the cost,
But just the simple message left --
"We took the risk -- and lost!"

CHORUS
'Tis a story that shall live for ever,
As long as the world shall be,
Of the men who died side by side,
Over the frozen sea;
All honour to the Sons of England,
Inscribed shall be each name,
In letters bold of brightest gold,
On the Nation's Scroll of Fame.
'Tis a Fame

--Courtesy of Paul Smith
(29 November 2002)



'SONGS OF THE MORNING'

David Wilson--grand nephew of Dr Wilson--recently reported on an interesting project. "I am working on producing a limited 'centenary CD' of the 'Songs of the Morning' to celebrate the centenary of the expedition relief ship 'Morning' and its vital role in the British National Antarctic Expedition 1901-1904. The songs are being sung by one of Doorly's grandsons, Roger Wilson, a professional New Zealand singer, and most of Doorly's other grandsons and great grandsons appear in the chorus, along with some distinguished professional singers! The recording has already taken place in New Zealand (great fun was reportedly had by all) and I expect the CD to be available later in the year. To my knowledge, this will be the first time that the 'Songs'--the oldest music composed in the Antarctic that survives to my knowledge--have been recorded."

NOTE: Gerald S. Doorly (1880-1956) put together 'The Songs of the Morning,' which was issued by the Bread and Cheese Club in Melbourne, Australia, in 1943. Doorly, who was the third officer on the Captain Scott's relief ship 'Morning', also authored "The Voyages of the 'Morning'" (London, 1916), a very scarce and highly collected book, and "In the Wake" (London, ca. 1936-37), his autobiography.
--R. Stephenson
(10 March 2002)

UPDATE: The CD will be available in "early September."
The Songs of the 'MORNING': A Musical Sketch
Music and poems from the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration. The 'Songs' were composed during the voyage of Morning to relieve Captain Scott and company aboard Discovery in 1902, as part of the British National Antarctic Expedition 1901-1904. With music composed by Lieut. G.S.Doorly, and lyrics by Chief Engineer Morrison and other officers, including Ernest Shackleton. A host of New Zealand's best musicians and actors have generously collaborated to produce this centenary recording.

Roger Wilson (baritone); Gillian Bibby (piano); Grant Tilly (narrator); Peter Vere-Jones & Charles Wilson (recitants); With The Morning Glories.

Produced by D.M.Wilson and R. Wilson
Reardon Press, Cheltenham. (www.reardon.co.uk).
© 2002
ISBN 1-873877-52-8
ISMN M9002068-0-0

Recommended Retail Price is £15.

All Royalties from the sale of this CD will be divided between the Dundee Heritage Trust and the New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust for their work on the historic artefacts of the British National Antarctic Expedition 1901-1904.

(12 September 2002)

UPDATE: David e-mails (11 September): "The CD is now out."
(12 September 2002)

UPDATE: David e-mails: "The CD is officially launching next week-- although it has been available for a few weeks."
(23 October 2002)

UPDATE: The website of BBC News - Science/Nature [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/2373303.stm] has in its 30 September issue the following piece by Christine McGourty, BBC Science Correspondent.

Music echoes Antarctic heroes

The lighter side of the "Heroic Age" of Antarctic exploration is celebrated in a new CD of polar songs, sketches and poems that has been compiled by descendants of some of the early explorers.

The aim is to raise money for the ship Discovery that Captain Scott first sailed into Antarctica 100 years ago and for the original huts on the continent, which are badly in need of restoration.

It is called The Songs Of The Morning and is based on the home-made entertainment devised by officers on the relief ship, The Morning, which sailed from London to Antarctica in search of Discovery when it became stuck in the ice on the British National Antarctic Expedition (1902-1904).

Gerard Doorly, third officer on the ship, was an accomplished pianist and improviser and his notes and diaries are used to tell the story of the search for Discovery.

Great age

One of the highlights is a song he penned jointly with Ernest Shackleton, who was suffering so badly from scurvy that he was invalided back to New Zealand on The Morning, on Scott's orders.

According to Doorly, he proved to be "a delightful" passenger who "entered into the spirit and fun of our little mess".

Roger Wilson, grandson of Doorly and a professional singer based in New Zealand, features on many of the songs and concedes the songs might not be to everyone's taste today: "Great music it isn't. But they're quite catchy and very evocative of the era.

"They're the sort of things you might expect to find in a Victorian drawing room. All the officers on the ship performed. This was the great age of the gentleman amateur.

"Any educated person was expected to turn their hand to a bit of verse and singing a little song around the piano."

Odd humour

The CD was produced in collaboration with Dr David Wilson, great nephew of Edward Wilson, the doctor and naturalist with Scott on Discovery.

He says: "It shows the most fascinating insights into the lives of men aboard the ships. The lighter side of expedition life is generally passed over by historians who are more interested in psychological analysis of the participants than their everyday experiences.

"We thought it would throw a new light on things for people who are interested today."

He described the performances as "Gilbert and Sullivan with a dash of sea salt and leaning into some Noel Coward as well", adding: "Some of the puns and jokes are really quite funny, but some are groan-worthy.

"But when you go down to the Antarctic and you're in this isolated environment, your standards for what keeps you amused drops a little bit, so you have to forgive them some of the more awful puns. But it's certainly very amusing."

Wider significance

The piano, the centrepiece of much of the entertainment, was a gift from Sir Clements Markham, president of the Royal Geographical Society.

It was destined for the Ward Room, but was too large for the doorway and had to be cut into pieces with the cook's meat saw and reassembled below deck.

Proceeds from sales of the CD will be split between Antarctic causes in the UK and New Zealand.

In dock at Dundee in Scotland, the ship Discovery is afloat and open to visitors, but is expensive to maintain and badly in need of funds.

"It's hard to believe that 100 years ago it embarked on what was the first major scientific expedition to Antarctica and that 100 years ago it was stuck in the ice in McMurdo Sound," says Stewart Brymer, of the Dundee Heritage Trust.

"But we need to tell more people outside Scotland about the work of Discovery and its significance.

"What Discovery does now is transport the visitor back 100 years in a very interactive and educational way, in the hope that it will keep going the spirit that spawned the expedition in the late 19th Century and led to so many great things in the years that followed."

Repair works

But a shortage of funding means that several posts have been lost at Discovery Point and important work on the ship is not being carried out. The Trust is short of £50,000 - £75,000 annually.

"To the untrained eye, the ship looks in very good condition, but there's a whole range of work requiring to be done," says Mr Brymer.

"If it's not done now, we're just storing up problems for the future and in 10 years' time, we'll have an even bigger repair to do or be faced with the possibility that we would have to place Discovery in dry dock".

Funds from the CD will also go towards restoring the original huts in Antarctica, which are undergoing major repair works being carried out by the New Zealand Antarctica Heritage Trust.

(30 October 2002)

UPDATE: My copy came the other day via the shop at SPRI. I've only listened to it once and not closely but there's a good bit of commentary and recitation along with the songs. The accompanying 24-page booklet is very nicely produced with several sketches and vintage photographs. Included is a 3-page historical overview by David Wilson, followed by three pages by Roger Wilson on the Songs of the Morning and Gerald Doorly. The remaining contents present both the commentary and the songs on each of the nine tracks. The songs included:

Track 1: A Nautical, Nautical Song, Yo Ho! (G.S. Doorly).
Track 2: Song of the Stores (R.G. England). Dearest Florrie (G.S. Doorly).
Track 3: Bobs is Dead (G.S. Doorly). Southward (J.D. Morrison).
Track 4: The Northland (J.D. Morrison).
Track 5: Eight Bells (G.S. Doorly). Zoological Notes (G.S. Doorly). Klementz, the Prezident, Boss of the Gheographez (J.D. Morrison). Birrdie (J.D. Morrison).
Track 6: You May Talk About Your Engines (R.G. England). Life's Handicap (G.F.A. Mulock). The Maid's Lament (J.D. Morrison).
Track 7: Intrepid Souls (Sir Clements Markham). The Ice King (J.D. Morrison).
Track 8: Scotland Forever (E.H. Shackleton).
Track 9: Yuss (J.D. Morrison). Rolling Home (G.S. Doorly).
--R. Stephenson
(7 November 2002)



ANTARCTIC SYMPHONY

The world premiere of Sir Peter Maxwell Davies' Antarctic Symphony (commissioned by British Antarctic Survey) is scheduled for Sunday the 6th of May in London's Royal Festival Hall. Davies spent a month in Antarctica to "give him the right inspiration for the piece." No further details at the moment.

From the BAS website:
"Press Release
29 January 2001 PR No. 2/2001
A unique collaboration between science and music reaches its peak on 6 May 2001 with the World Premiere of a new Antarctic Symphony by acclaimed British composer Sir Peter Maxwell Davies. The Premiere is one of the key events in the week of the Royal Festival Hall's Fiftieth Anniversary celebrations. Antarctic Symphony (Symphony No 8), commissioned jointly by British Antarctic Survey (BAS) and the Philharmonia Orchestra (PO), is a sequel to Vaughan Williams' Sinfonia Antartica. Maxwell Davies finished writing the symphony, his last, on the evening of 15 December 2000, exactly three years to the day when he left the UK with BAS scientists on his inspirational trip to Antarctica.

He said, "The new Antarctic Symphony reflects my experiences in one of the world's last great wildernesses. I was greatly influenced by my encounter with scientists searching into ways in which the Antarctic will change our environment over the coming centuries - some of the scientific processes I learned about have engendered purely musical processes. The new symphony also reflects my experience of Vaughan Williams' Sinfonia Antartica, at its first performance in Manchester by the Hallé Orchestra under Sir John Barbirolli in 1953. The new work opens, and is punctuated by the sound of breaking ice - heard as the British Antarctic Survey's Research Vessel James Clark Ross broke through the frozen sea, on its way south."

Sinfonia Antartica originated from the 1948 film, Scott of the Antarctic starring (Sir) John Mills. The Philharmonia Orchestra performed the music for the soundtrack. The film and its associated music was, for many people, the first introduction to the awe-inspiring beauty of the frozen continent and the heroic endeavours of a tragic expedition.

The Director of BAS, Professor Chris Rapley, said, "Our joint commission aims to be as seminal as its predecessor - this time drawing public attention to the important scientific achievements of the late Twentieth Century and the aspirations for the Twenty First. Antarctica may be remote geographically but it plays a central role in the functioning of our planet. Sir Peter Maxwell Davies is recognised as a composer of 'place' and his commitment to environmental issues was a key factor in choosing him to write a new Antarctic Symphony."

The new symphony aims to fuse the worlds of science and the arts and is symbolic of the indivisibility of Antarctica as a component of the Earth system, and its extraordinary character and beauty. In addition to the commission, the BAS and the PO are working together to create exciting science/music projects for young people inspired by the commission. It is the first time that these two organisations have collaborated to reach beyond their traditional audiences.

Tickets are on sale now from the South Bank Centre Box Office. Telephone: 020 7960 4242 or visit their website at www.sbc.org.uk Prices start at £6.
-ENDS-

Issued by British Antarctic Survey Press Office.
Press enquiries to:
Athena Dinar - Telephone: (01223) 221414, Email: amdi@bas.ac.uk or
Linda Capper - Telephone: (01223) 221448, Email: lmca@bas.ac.uk
Philharmonia Press contact: Ginny MacBeth. Telephone: 020 7700 5959.
Email: macbethg@btinternet.com
For interviews with Sir Peter Maxwell Davies: please contact his manager Judy Arnold, Telephone: 020 7370 2328 Email: j.arnold@maxopus.com

NOTES TO EDITORS:
Maxwell Davies spent a month at BAS Rothera Research Station in Antarctica in 1997/98 living with scientists and support staff. His Antarctic diary can be read on www.maxopus.com/lists/antarcti.htm
Music publisher publishers Boosey & Hawkes delivered the copies of the score to BAS and the Philharmonia Orchestra offices this week.

Photography
Spectacular broadcast quality video, as well as 35 mm stills of Sir Peter were filmed during his visit to Antarctica. Press copies are available from the BAS Press Office.

Background information about British Antarctic Survey
British Antarctic Survey (BAS) undertakes a world-class programme of science in the Antarctic and related regions, addressing key global and regional issues through research, survey and monitoring. BAS also helps to discharge the UK's international responsibilities under the Antarctic Treaty System. In so doing BAS sustains for the UK an active and influential regional presence, and a leadership role in Antarctic affairs, especially concerning environmental protection and management.

BAS has a complement of over 400 staff half of which are deployed in the Antarctic during the southern summer. Scientific programmes and logistics are co-ordinated from the BAS Headquarters in Cambridge, the hub of communications with research stations, ships and aircraft. BAS HQ houses offices, a range of laboratories and workshops, in which science programmes are planned and the results analysed.

British Antarctic Survey is part of the Natural Environment Research Council. For more information on British Antarctic Survey please visit the website at: www.antarctica.ac.uk

The film 'Scott of the Antarctic' was produced by Ealing Studios in 1948. The score was performed by the Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Ernest Irving.

Background on the Philharmonia Orchestra
One of the world's great orchestras, the Philharmonia Orchestra has entered the new millennium during the most exciting and dynamic phase in its distinguished history. To find out more - visit the website: www.philharmonia.co.uk

The details of the Vaughan Williams are:
Scott of the Antarctic - the film is 1948
Vaughan Williams - Sinfonia Antartica - 1952"

UPDATE: See Antarctic Book Notes elsewhere on this site for information on Notes from a Cold Climate....

UPDATE: The British Antarctic Survey's Senior web editor, Julian Paren, has e-mailed recently with some interesting additional information:

"I note that your site is now a little out of date in the section of Antarctic Music. Not only has the the Antarctic Symphony of Sir Peter Maxwell Davies been played four times but there have been now five performances of his "other" Antarctic piece of music "High on the Slopes Of Terror".

Sir Peter Maxwell Davies' manager maintains a very extensive web site: www.maxopus.com
There is a real wealth of information on both pieces of music, their performances and reviews and the background to the works.

For the works themselves go to: www.maxopus.com/works/symph_8.htm and www.maxopus.com/new/symp_8.htm for the reviews
Similarly:
www.maxopus.com/works/highsot.htm and www.maxops.com/new/highsot.htm"

(10 March 2002)

UPDATE: The BAS webpage under [http://www.antarctica.ac.uk/News/Stories/2002/antarcticmusic.html] notes that CD recordings of both 'Antarctic Symphony' and 'High on the Slopes of Terror' are expected in 2002.

By the way, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies' Antarctic Symphony will be performed at the Louise Davies Hall in San Francisco on 14, 15, and 16 March 2002 with the composer conducting.
(12 March 2002)



GREAT SCOTT!

The first Antarctic musical, Great Scott!, had its Premier performance in June at the King's School in Parramatta, Sydney, with an orchestra and 90 voices. A theatrical presentation of Scott's tragic polar party, it is the work of composer David Jensen and writer David Burke (Overseas-Australia). Frank Debenham and Griffith Taylor, scientists with Scott's expedition, were students of the school, and items associated with them were displayed at the theatre for the performance. Extracts from Scott's diary, Antarctic slide scenes, and a narration by "Debenham", helped unfold the story of Scott's doomed march to the pole. David Burke has made four trips to the Antarctic, and is the author of Monday at McMurdo, and more recently, Moments of Terror: The story of Antarctic Aviation. The musical is planned to travel in eastern Australia, and a video may also become available.

--From POLAR WHISPERS, the newsletter of the New Zealand Antarctic Society, Issue 7, June 1996.



SCOTT: CHRISTCHURCH TO CAPE EVANS

The first New York performance of Donald Stratton's Scott: Christchurch to Cape Evans, composed in 1969, was performed on February 11, 1972 at Borden Auditorium, Manhattan School of Music, by the Manhattan Brass Ensemble. The performance was conducted by the composer.

I [R. Stephenson] attended this performance and mentioned it recently to Valmar Kurol, President/Editor off the Montreal Antarctic Society. He ferreted out Don Stratton who now lives in Augusta, Maine, a retired faculty member of the University of Maine. Valmar notes in the Spring 2000 issue of The Seventh Continent, the Society's newsletter (archived at http://www.anta.canterbury.ac.nz/Subfolder/news/montreal/) that "The unusual instrumentation for this 12-minute opus includes 8 trumpets, 4 horns, 4 trombones, 2 tubas and 4 percussionists. The four sections (with the composer's comments) include:
I Leaving Dunedin - based on a sailor's hymn, "Eternal Father Strong to Save". Almost immediately plagued by storms, a portrait of things to come.
II Dec. 2, 1910 - almost destroyed, snapping of sails, whipping of rigging, cracking of seams, howl of wind, roar of sea. "A Mighty Fortress is our God", the storm retreats.
III Christmas in the Pack - Aurora Australis, stuck in ice, English Christmas songs being sung above and below.
IV "Land!" - "Cape Evans".
...the only other known performance was by The Augustana Brass Choir in April 1988 at Augustana College. His [Stratton's] background to writing the piece for his brother, came from several years of study and the collection of many books about the Scott Expeditions, after he saw the movie Scott of the Antarctic.


HOME