for choir SSA, two solo violins and organ (2002)
duration: 6’
text by Ross Baglin
GRT • 088

audio sample

score available from
Australian Music Centre

program note
Antarctica is a setting of a new text by Melbourne poet Ross Baglin, with whom the composer has worked closely for the past 18 years. The text alludes to rising sea levels caused by the melting of the polar ice caps due to global warming. The opening figure in the violins represents the monolithic, impenetrable white cliffs of the great ice continent. The main chorus, “I feel you arise”, is anthemic and musically celebrates the relatively untouched beauty of Antarctica. The line “One day glacier will run like ribbons on the stairs”, however, is the poet’s reminder that a very different future may already be rushing toward us.

The piece was commissioned and premiered by MLC School, Sydney, conducted by Paul Stanhope. Antarctica is dedicated to the memory of Anna Rogachevsky.

"The Australian guests commenced with Antarctica by Stuart Greenbaum. With two violins placed in the pulpit and many solo voices arranged with an accompanying organ, it proved very effective."
Willy Henriksen, Sandefjords Blad (Norway), September 2004

“Scientific research has proven fertile ground for composers. Stuart Greenbaum’s choral work Antarctica (2002) uses a text by Melbourne poet Ross Baglin about sea level rise due to the melting Antarctic ice sheet. The music, written for treble choir, two violins and organ, is a poignant elegy to a place (and world) under threat.”
Carolyn Philpott, The Conversation, August 2018

Forsaken by tiger
And scarlet lily, flirting
After frond and stream,
You lie in iron waters,
Silver, continent and still;
The solid waves
That pitch from cliffs,
The glaciers fanned
And filed to scree,
All these the gibbering birds decry
To mute and neutral distances ;
"Only the hardy are serene,
The sinless, unforgiving".

Ark of the waters,
I feel you arise.

Tick, revolving clock
Of oceans, wake the dark
Spread scarlet to the peak ;
Break news of daylight,
As the pack ice creaks
Below you, and the calved floe breaks
To the sleeping, insolent streets.

A world is melting.
One day glacier will run
Like ribbons on the stairs
The iceberg clink in the glass ;
Kiribati's blue ceiling,
The white bitten coast
Lie still in the mutable air.

Ark of the waters
I feel you arise.