Antarctic Symphony (Symphony No. 8)
Since the seminal writings of C P Snow there has been a recognition in Britain that there is a cultural divide between arts and science. In order to provide a better understanding between both sides of the community an innovative approach was required. In 1997 the British Antarctic Survey and the Philharmonia Orchestra commissioned the leading British composer Sir Peter Maxwell Davies to compose a new Antarctic Symphony, to be premiered at The Festival Hall during its 50th Anniversary celebrations in May 2001. This monumental new work is called 'Antarctic Symphony' (Symphony No. 8).

The composer (Max) was selected for his commitment to environmental issues and the commission integrated the creation of an education programme to further this theme. The initiative is both cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural, incorporating in the educational organisations chosen, a wide range of ethnic musical backgrounds as a reflection of the international co-operation that underpins and characterises Antarctic science.

Braunarts was invited to collaborate with BAS, PO and RFH to create the educational resource related to the symphony that became Antarctic Waves. The Antarctic Waves team wanted to take advantage of the unique opportunity of the Symphony's premiere, to gather first hand information from a range of key personnel in the making and performing of the Antarctic Symphony.

We undertook an in-depth interview with Sir Peter (Max) and asked him to talk about his intentions for the Symphony and how they developed during his 3 week trip to the Antarctic. He also talks about the major musical devices that he employed in the Symphony and explains how they relate to his expereinces in the remote continent.

We also spoke to three musicians from the Philharmonia Orchestra who were involved in learning the new Symphony and performing it at the premiere in London. They gave us insights into the way Max wrote for their instruments (violin, clarinet and percussion), discussed their interpretations of the music and the way in which they thought elements of the Antarctic could be heard in the music.

This area will soon contain extracts from the interviews with Max and the musicians.

To order your copy of Antarctic Waves please go to the website of our publishers, MMT at

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