The Marais Project performs The Fantastical Life of Daniel Solander: Australia’s First Swede, featuring Swedish folk and art music and songs from the Australian Colonial Era with dramatised excerpts from the diaries of Sir Joseph Banks & Captain James Cook.
Daniel Solander was a brilliant Swedish botanist and linguist, and an almost forgotten member of Cook’s 1770 voyage to Australia. Drawing on their unique background in Swedish folk and art music, Australian colonial music by Isaac Nathan and the diaries of Captain Cook and Joseph Banks, The Marais Project and actor/narrator James Fraser celebrate the fantastical life of Australia’s first Swede.
The narrator James Fraser, is almost the same age as Joseph Banks, who was only 25 when he set out on The Endeavour. Tommie Andersson adds to the authenticity of the tale playing an original 1770 classical guitar. Nathan and colonial poet Eliza Hamilton Dunlop did not shy away from enormous impact settlement had on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island peoples, and neither does The Marais Project. They have included Nathan’s setting of Dunlop’s heartrending poem, The Aboriginal Mother, which describes the 1838 Myall Creek massacre where some 30 unarmed people of the Wirraayaraay clan of the Kamilaroi people were murdered.
The story does have a happy ending, though. On returning to London, Solander became Sir Joseph Banks’ private secretary, resumed his role at the British Museum and continued his adventures on a scientific voyage to Iceland and the Orkney Islands. He never went back to Sweden.
Since the 2014 launch of their popular Smörgåsbord CD of Swedish early music, folk and jazz, Swedish born lutenist, Tommie Andersson, and viola da gambist, Jenny Eriksson, whose grandfather was Swedish, have been national leaders in bringing the joys of their Scandinavian musical heritage to Australian shores.
Originally developed to align with the 250th anniversary of Cook’s voyage in 2020, The Marais Project was to present this show around Australia and for the Australian Embassy in Stockholm, but now its premiere will take place live on Australian Digital Concert Hall.
The performers: Susie Bishop – voice & violin/ James Fraser – actor/narrator/ Tommie Andersson –5-course guitar (1770) & 9-string guitar and arrangements/ Jennifer Eriksson – viola da gamba