Ask Alice questions about her personal adventure here.
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How exciting Alice! Good luck and keep warm. My only at sea experience with the harp was in 1959 crossing the Atlantic. I performed in First Class during the voyage and was shocked at how the harp rocked away from me and then returned to press me half way to the floor. Sometimes I couldn’t reach the basses and next moment I was squashed with the weight of the harp on me! What we didn’t have to deal with was the COLD.
Hi Judith! I am not counting on having access to my pedal harp during the voyage. It’s going to be stored with the helicopters as it seems this is the place cargo can be most sure to remain above 0 degrees (although the ship is over 20 years old and they can’t guarantee anything!). They will tie it down so securely to get through the roaring 40s without crashing about, that it is unlikely I will be able to open it up. If I am lucky enough to be able to open the trunk and practice in the helicopter hangar, I’ll be thinking of you as I lose which octave I happen to be playing in. I’m able to take a lever harp by a Tasmanian maker as carry on luggage so that I can at least keep my fingers from getting too stiff during the voyage. xAlice
Dear Alice, Your adventure sounds like it will be truly inspirational. I know that your travel will involve playing the harp- but how do you envision time away from the harp on this voyage? How do you feel your creative instincts will respond to moments where inspiration occurs and there is no harp? It perhaps seems an odd question, but those who speak creatively through an instrument sometimes find other ways of capturing their surroundings- writing, or photographs or just something internal 🙂
Dear Alex, Being just a humble performer my creative instincts are mostly internalised, and expressed only in general terms when I perform works written by others. This will be so different from my usual life I am not quite sure how I will react. The filming, photographing, and recording sounds on the ship may be my creative outlet. A very reluctant photographer usually, this could possibly be something that develops during the enforced break and surprise me. I will have the little harp to move my fingers on, but it is not my usual instrument so I am not sure about that either. I do like to draw and don’t usually get time for it, so will definitely be taking my pencils with me. cheers, Alice
Dear Alice, I can’t believe that you are going to Antarctica. I’ve heard a lot about Antarctica and it sounds like a wonderful place. We learnt a bit about Antarctica at school and I found it fascinating. Good luck with this adventure. I hope that I can do interesting things like this with harp when I get older. I hope you have a fanstastic time. Kate
Hello Katie – Thanks, and yes, I am very excited to be able to do this with my harp. Maybe once you get back to school you would like to suggest to your class that they follow the blog and ask me some questions? I would love to share the adventure!
Hello Alice, I am excited to read about your Fellowship and the wonder for you, of performing in Antarctica and in the footsteps of your grandfather. Will you be the first Churchill Fellow to perform in this continent? Still remember with great enjoyment your playing for us at the Churchill Fellows Gathering in Canberra 2002. All the best for this new adventure.
Hello Meg – I’not sure about other Churchill Fellows in Antarctica – we certainly get all over the world, so it’s probably likely there have been some to Antarctica. CTM was a Rhodes Scholar, but had to put it on hold when he was asked to stay back and wait for Mawson’s party the second winter.
Ahoy, Alice!!! I just started catching up with your blog – what adventures you’ve had already, with so much more to come! I’m going to send the link to your blogsite again to my students. I also saw Jan Vinci last night and have sent it to her as well!
Good luck with the harps and playing – I can’t wait to read more as you go along. Thank you for sharing this amazing adventure with us all!
Hi Karlinda! I love it that I can share the trip in this way, and it is so nice to think of you on the opposite side of the world following it. I hope your students will come up with some questions! Ship life is great, and we even have someone on board called Noah. It is not a large ship so you end up running around the same tracks all the time, but then there is the (seemingly) endless sea and sky all around to feel free. love, Alice
Hi Alice! I have really enjoyed reading about your fantastic adventure, and your beautifully written accounts so far. I am also envious as I would love to go back again to the Antarctic. I played onboard the Marco Polo for several of her Antarctic voyages in the 1990s and it was a truly life-changing experience. However I never took my harp off the ship, as you will be doing — and I also never played it atop an iceberg, as some of the crew suggested! It really felt like a great privilege to travel to such a place, where nature is at her true extreme. I think most of all I loved the ice, in all its crazy and glorious shapes and colours. I wish you every success in your amazing journey! Best wishes, Carolyn
Hi Carolyn – that’s so interesting to know you have taken your harp to Antarctic waters also. Which harp did you take? Where did you go on those voyages? Did you go ashore yourself? Did you find the air very dry? It would be lovely to hear more about it. We are just arriving in the iceberg world these last days – so different from the stormy seas of the roaring forties. Did you see whales also? cheers, Alice
Hi again, I was asked to play recitals onboard so I took my Kim Webby concert grand harp on the voyages. I got some advice from a friend who had played a lot on cruise ships, and was able to lie the harp down flat in its own cabin when the seas were rough. We made three voyages to the Antarctic peninsula and back to South America, then on the fourth trip we circumnavigated the continent, and arrived back in NZ. And yes, I got on shore a lot, as I was also part time expedition staff — an honorary position! The air was incredibly dry, and I kept a small mesh bag with a dampened towel inside my harp most of the time. This seemed to help a lot. All the voyages added up to about seven weeks, and I remember being incredibly sad when it was all over! A few years later my husband and I went back on another ship, just as passengers this time, and it is still on the list of future trips. The place really gets under your skin… I know you will have amazing adventures there! Keep writing to let us know! All the best, Carolyn
Hi Carolyn – Thanks for the tip re improvised Dampit – I will make one up today with a flannel inside a bit of the rubber carpet underlay they put around everywhere so your things don’t slip on the table – it’s rubbery and has little holes. I forgot to pack my dampit, but this will be a better solution anyway. We’re in real Antarctic waters now, and the sea is flat like a lake. So it’s good to be able to play without worrying, although I do lie the harp down when I’m not playing because we’re breaking through soft ice all the time, and sometimes it’s a bit of a jolt. Alice
It sounds like you’re having a wonderful time in Antarctica. I love the photos and am glad that you’re managing with the 3 metre seas! I’m looking forward to hearing more about your journey as it progresses!
I hopes that you have a safe journey and it all sounds so interesting that you’re playing a harp in Antarctica…
Enjoying reading your adventure! Are you going to see the hut where CT Madigan lived for two years (100 years ago)? Love Steph, Brian and Tom
I really hope that you are having a fantastic journey so far, it is a very interesting and amazing musical adventure that you have undertaken! I am a Music Teacher at Redlands in North Sydney and I was wondering if you would mind our students writing to you about your journey? Amazingly, the Year 5’s are actually studying Antarctica at the moment so your website and the project you’re doing are so unbelievably perfect for us to follow!
Music Teacher, Redlands
Dear Anna – I would be thrilled to receive questions from your students – I will look forward to hearing from them. This also help me know what people are interested in. Once I have done my concert and sent back some video files from the Station they might also have questions about the music and my preparation or performance. Alice
We are thrilled to hear and see all the photos and videos, the sounds are fascinating! It’s almost like being there, so exciting, lots of love,
Dear Alice, I have been following your exciting and inspiring journey with your harp to Antarctica with great enthusiasm and interest. You write so evocatively about your experiences, and the photos and recordings of your performances on the ice are tremblingly beautiful. I haven’t contacted you until now as I have engrossed in my own application for an Antarctica Arts fellowship which is almost ready… I am a visual artist (sculpture, drawing, painting) also very interested in sound and contemporary music. Thank you for sharing your experiences with us! I will be coming to the Antarctica: Music, Sound & Cultural Connections concerts and conference at ANU in June and look forward to hearing you perform, I hope that we can meet each other.
Warm(!) regards and best wishes,
Hi Louise, Thanks – I will look forward to meeting you in June. All the best with your application. I hope you will be able to apply to spend more time on the continent itself than I was able to – for a creative artist this will be really important.
Thank you Alice for sharing the Antartica via the Arts. Peace and Scientific research are the foci of Antartica’s daily routine. So, your musical punctuation would have been well received by expeditioners. Watching the MP4 recordings, the animal were not disturbed by the ‘unusual’ sonic experience of the harp and human. I am a pre-service teacher, and similar to a previous post by Anna, the year 5/6 that I will be sharing my internship with are also studying Antartica. Your journal entries will be useful during language study. I have enjoyed reading your posts and could imagine the internalisation of wonder and awe. Once upon a time a trip such as this was suitable only for explorers, such as your grandfather. I hope your trip home is/was peaceful. Cara
Hi Cara, It took me a few moments to work out what you meant by using my journal entries for language study! I have a running joke with someone on board about all the different skills I am adding to my work qualifications portfolio (dishwasher, cartographer, galley hand, siren, movie editor…) so I’ll be able to add writer to the list now. I’ll be happy to receive questions from your class even after my return. Yes, much has changed when I think of how the original expeditioners were primarily also explorers. The wild environment was something I could observe but did not need to do battle with to survive.
Are you the Cara Minary that I know? Nedim
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