Alumnus composes music for Scott Centenary

Trinity Laban alumnus Cecilia McDowall has composed the piece, Seventy Degrees Below Zero, to commemorate the centenary of Captain Scott's expedition to the Antarctic.

Seventy Degrees Below Zero was commissioned by the City of London Sinfonia and the Scott Polar Research Institute as part of the Scott 100 Festival of Events, and the premiere took place in February at Symphony Hall, Birmingham.

Cecilia became involved in the project after a visit to the Scott Polar Research Institute. The name refers to a line in one of Scott's letters to his wife, 'Dear, it is not easy to write because of the cold - 70 degrees below zero.' Cecilia went on to produce a three movement orchestral song cycle written for the tenor soloist, Robert Murray, and the City of London Sinfonia, conducted by Stephen Layton.

Cecilia said she was heavily influenced by Scott's journals: "Scott gives an extraordinary account of the harrowing voyage with this inhospitable backdrop; atrocious temperatures, raging blizzards, the frostbite they endured, dwindling food supplies. And yet with all this Scott kept a meticulous account of scientific data even towards the end of his life. His writings in the Journals are at times very descriptive and poetic - 'desolate, ghostly illumination.' I am in awe of what these men set out to do, their courage, their stamina and their selflessness in pursuit of scientific discovery in the Antarctic."

You can read more about Cecilia's work on her website, and the events surround the Centenary at

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