New symphony celebrates a life of icy service

Far South Symphony

Video transcript

GORDON HAMILTON, composer/conductor:

I’m here in Antarctica near Casey Station working on a symphony, and that symphony is for the Tasmania Symphony Orchestra, the London Mozart Players, and also the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, all to play.

In 2018, Gordon Hamilton went south to create a musical legacy for the Aurora Australis


I was really drawn to this program because – well, Antarctica is a place that may as well be as far away as Mars or the Moon. It’s somewhere I thought I would never have the opportunity to visit, but has always been there in my imagination, like, I think, for most people, and it’s a place that lends itself so much to art and music and cinema.

He recorded the sounds of the icebreaker and Antarctica


So the orchestra will play and I’ll compose music around these recordings as if they are the soloist in an opera or in a song.

But often it was the lack of sound that really inspired him


That’s a kind of silence that I’ve never really experienced before. Perhaps in this symphony there are moments of epic silence.

The first people to hear his new composition were on the icebreaker itself


It was a really nice situation to share the piece about the Aurora Australis on the Aurora Australis and the recordings of the ship as they played through the speaker, we could hear the ship making these groans and these noises and whistles while the piece was playing, so it was actually very special.

Now the premiere of ‘Far South’ brings the music of Antarctica to the world


These sounds will have a lot of resonance for people that know the ship because the ship has a lot of memories – contains a lot of memories for these people – for all of us.

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