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Tyranny of Distance

Composer Brenton Broadstock

Melbourne Symphony Orchestra

Conductor Warwick Stengards

Video Design / Performance Tim Gruchy

Soprano Merlyn Quaife

Didgerido Jida Gulpilil

Oct17 2009 :

Melbourne International Arts Festival

Program Note : Rumour has it that the American inventor Samuel Morse said that he had overcome the ‘tyranny of distance’ when asked to appraise his invention of the telegraph and Morse Code and the revolutionary effect it had on communication in America in the mid 19th century. However, most Australians would be more familiar with the phrase, the tyranny of distance, as used by historian Geoffrey Blainey in 1966 to explain how Australia’s geographical isolation contributed to our economic and social development and the title of my piece came from reading this book as a young history student. It is now the 21st century (2009 as I write this) and distance no longer has the same repressive connotations that it did in Morse’s time (1830s-40s) or even in the mid 1960s. Our technological and travel advances mean that we can overcome distance easily: an e-mail with video, a mobile phone call from most parts of the world or a trip to anywhere by car or plane in hours! My Tyranny of Distance is a work of many resonances but is essentially an expression of two parallel journeys, of an individual and a ‘land’. It is a philosophical journey that engages with our mortality and our submission to life. It is an optimistic and positive journey from ‘dissonance to consonance’, from uncertainty to acceptance and hope.





Tyranny of Distance - Symphony #6


Rehearsal photos by Tim Gruchy and Phil Wardley