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String quartet no.6 : The lonely planet

by Stuart Greenbaum (2015)

Work Overview

The search for signs of intelligent life beyond planet Earth are ongoing; but for now, our planet could be described as alone within the Solar System and perhaps the entire universe. Loneliness is also part of the human condition. Something we experience through geographical isolation, but also by emotional or psychological disconnection in the midst of a crowd or even in the company of people known to us. This quartet in 3 movements contemplates what it means to be connected or to be alone, both as a planet and as individuals. Commissioned by Julian Burnside especially for the Flinders Quartet, the work is dedicated to Tony and Maureen Wheeler (founders in 1972 of Lonely Planet travel guides).

I. 1972, World Population: 3.84 billion

The age of wide-bodied aircraft but also the OPEC oil crisis the following year. The end of the Apollo Program and the last time we set foot on the moon. Soviet and American space probes send back images of Mars and Pioneer 10 is launched for Jupiter. Designs are endorsed for a space shuttle. Watergate, The Munich Olympics and digital watches.

II. Bhaktapur to Nagarkot: 12.4 km

In Mount Everest, Nepal hosts the most elevated peak on Earth, together with an array of lesser-known destinations for hiking - a way to get far from the madding crowd. Fly to Kathmandu, take a taxi into town and the bus to Bhaktapur. Walk out from Durban Square to the foot of the hills and find an unmarked shortcut to the road winding up to Nagarkot.

III. 2015, World Population: 7.36 billion

In 43 years, the world's population has almost doubled. Watching the Current World Population calculator online is a disconcerting experience. It flickers backwards regularly (deaths) but the primary driver is new births, which push forward exponentially. Climate change, detailed pictures of Pluto, the International Year of Light.

Work Details

Year: 2015

Instrumentation: 2 violins, viola, cello.

Duration: 24 min.

Difficulty: Advanced

Contents note: I. 1972, World Population: 3.84 billion -- II. Bhaktapur to Nagarkot: 12.4 km -- III. 2015, World Population: 7.36 billion.

Dedication note: Dedicated to Maureen Wheeler, Tony Wheeler

Written for: Flinders Quartet

Commission note: Commissioned by Julian Burnside.

First performance: by Flinders Quartet at Flinders Quartet "The Lonely Planet" (Montsalvat) on 22 May 2016


Performances of this work

26 May 2016: at Flinders Quartet "The Lonely Planet" (Melbourne Recital Centre, Primrose Potter Salon). Featuring Flinders Quartet.

26 May 16: The Salon, Melbourne Recital Centre. Featuring Flinders Quartet.

22 May 2016: at Flinders Quartet "The Lonely Planet" (Montsalvat). Featuring Flinders Quartet.

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