The Ice Suite

 Robert Falcon Scott led two expeditions across the Antarctic, the second, a race to the South Pole ended in tragedy. The diaries of Scott gave an insight into the long, hard journey, the distress that Scott felt when he found that the  orwegian explorer, Roald Amundsen had beaten him to the Pole by 35 days is recorded as “The worst has happened” and “all day dreams must end.” Scott and his party turned back and slowly succumbed to starvation and death. It is from the diaries that Scott wrote and the modern twist to the tale that

Co. Sonance Ensemble’s new show, ‘The Ice Suite’ draws inspiration.


Karena Wynn- Moylan is the founder,producer and main composer of Co.Sonance. Her compositions which use loops and samples are licensed through New York agency Pump Audio are in use in television and cinema worldwide.

Cye Wood and Ken Naughton are the contributing composers to The Ice Suite. Wood’s mastery of the five string viola is greatly enlarged by his use of a range of looping and effects pedals to create lyrical atmospheric passages and Naughton,a classically trained violinist and pianist uses a carbon-fibre violin to evoke emotional and wildly impressionistic sounds.

Imagery is delivered by Grayson Cooke, senior lecturer in digital media at Southern Cross University in Lismore. Using a 20 channel digital image mixer, Cooke combines filters and effects to emphasise dramatic points within the narrative, “like a DJ.”

The project has taken the group over a year to write with the composers meeting when they can and often working off USB sticks in their studios when they cannot make the time. The piece itself does not hold to a rigid storyline, rather, it has improvisational qualities. Wynn-Moylan says, “it’s not a narrative, there’s no story although there is a beginning, middle and end.”

The project incorporates music, spoken word and live imagery to evoke the internal dialogue that might have consumed Scott and his men as they crossed the ice. Wynn-Moylan was initially drawn to Scott’s story ten years ago after reading an article in the paper. The story outlined the discovery of Scott’s resting place eight months after he and three of his men succumbed to the cold and starvation in their tent. An immense ice cairn was erected over the tentand bodies. Over time, the ice has pushed the cairn downwards and onwards until it was found that the bodies had travelled the 11 miles to their initial destination. Wynn-Moylan says it was tracked by satellite and that she “thinks Scott would have liked it, the technology that was used to follow him to the depot.”

The music and visual components of ‘The Ice Suite’ work together to fragment the Scott narrative into moments of imagery and passages of words and music. Wynn-Moylan says that “the almost crypt-like atmosphere of the MONA” is a highly appropriate place to stage the world premiere of production.

 The story is a bleak reminder of the courageous and foolhardy nature of adventuring. Wynn- Moylan says that she wanted to understand how “people want to go down to such a hostile environment.”

The Ice Suite, March 29 at MONA. Limited

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Katherine Farrell
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