String Quartet No.6
The Lonely Planet (2015)
duration: 24’
GRT • 184

Youtube excerpt (3rd movement)
SQ#6-vid

score available from
Australian Music Centre

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

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.