My song cycle, Solander, celebrates the life and lasting legacy of the Swedish botanist Daniel Solander, who, as a young scientist and linguist, became Sir Joseph Banks’ assistant on the British Royal Navy research ship, HMS Endeavour, on its journey of scientific discovery from 1768 to 1771. Solander made a significant contribution to the early identification of Australian flora, but remains relatively unknown in Australia today.

Kate Reid

Kate Reid. Photograph © Anthony Browell

I came to know of his extraordinary work when I was invited three years ago to spend a months’ residency at the Visby International Centre for Composers in Sweden. There I had an opportunity to immerse myself not only in the extensive canon of Swedish choral music, but also in research of the Solander story. Once I began, it became clear that there was potentially enough material to write an opera! As a shorter work, the Song Cycle is necessarily limited to the more striking aspects of Solander’s life, in particular his impressive journey on the Endeavour to Australia and the challenges on the way. ...