Exile, originally for violin and piano and composed for Duo Sol, who performed it at the 2010 Edinburgh Festival, was commissioned by Julian Burnside, the prominent Australian barrister and human rights advocate well known for his staunch opposition to the mandatory detention of asylum seekers. The theme of this brief work is the age-old plight of displaced peoples, the mythic allure of distant places, of epic sea voyages and nostalgia for one’s homeland.
Julian had earlier commissioned my String Quartet No. 1, Sparks and Auras, premiered for Musica Viva Australia in 2007 by the visiting Brentano String Quartet from New York. He now proposed a joint commission with his colleague Brian Walters, for me to make a string quartet version of Exile for the Flinders Quartet, who premiered it at meeting of Liberty Victoria in Melbourne. This I later added to Sparks and Auras as a finale, which accumulates fierce intensity before disappearing into a mysterious horizon. The New Zealand String Quartet premiered the revised and extended quartet at a concert of my works at the 2010 Canberra Festival.