Films, Audio & Samples
Maria Grenfell: Tarraleah -...Embedded audio
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In the early 1900s, electricity was just arriving in Tasmania. The state government began building power stations in the midlands, opening the first power station at Waddamana in 1916. Thus began one of Tasmania’s most important continuing construction programs, but with the Second World War the progress slowed due to lack of manpower, equipment and materials. In 1948 a British transport ship docked at Elizabeth Street Pier in Hobart with 300 Polish ex-servicemen from post-war Europe. Initially expecting to work in New South Wales, they had been persuaded to travel to Tasmania (supposedly “mild and not as hot”) to work on the expanding hydro-electric scheme in Tarraleah, Waddamana and Butlers Gorge. The construction of the subsequent dams and power stations could not have happened without these and many other immigrants, who made new lives for themselves and worked hard, despite the cold, and, at times, difficult and dangerous conditions. I was fascinated by many of their stories, both hair-raising and humorous. There is an old Polish prayer hymn, Bogurodzica, that originated somewhere between the 10th and 13th centuries, and calls on Christ to give people a blissful stay on earth and everlasting existence in heaven. It seemed appropriate to draw on this hymn for musical inspiration in tribute to the invaluable contribution of those who settled in this state.
For score and parts, visit the Australian Music Centre.
Commissioned by the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra to commemorate the centenary of Principal Partner, Hydro Tasmania