Libretto by Gwendolyn MacEwen  

For solo baritone and chamber ensemble (flute, 2 clarinet/bass clarinet, trumpet, percussion, harp, piano/synth, violin I, violin II, viola, cello, contrabass). 

On May 19, 1845, two ships, the Terror and the Erebus, set sail under the command of Admiral John Franklin. Their mission: to find the elusive Northwest Passage. They never returned. After three winters, two of them spent stuck in the Arctic ice, the crew at last abandoned their vessels and began an impossible trek southwards, which none survived. The story of that ill-fated expedition had long fascinated Kucharzyk, and when he discovered in the archives of the CBC a transcript and tape of Gwendolyn MacEwen’s 1975 radio play on the subject, he seized the opportunity to give musical voice to the tragic tale. MacEwen’s play was scripted as a series of monologues by four characters: Franklin himself,  his second-in-command, Captain Francis Crozier; Qaqortingneq, an Inuk; and Knud Rasmussen, the Danish polar explorer of the early twentieth century, who narrates. In Kucharzyk’s setting, one performer portrays all four characters.

Performed by:
Theodore Baerg, baritone
Northern Portraits Ensemble
Gary Kulesha, conductor