Imagine a statuesque double bass, with its irreplaceably deep, woody resonance. And now multiply this by four.

“You’d need a really big car,” as Ed Le Brocq would say.

A quartet of double basses is capable of great power and depth (think Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony). But what you might not expect is its ability to produce exquisite, almost heavenly sounds that gently whisper directly from (and into) our hearts.

Sally Greenaway

Sally Greenaway. Body artwork by Anne Hind. Photo © Ivor Hind

In 2021, as the world grappled with the shadows of the global pandemic, the Canberra Symphony Orchestra invited me to compose a piece to feature four members of its double bass section, as part of the CSO Digital Series, which celebrates the city and showcases local composers and musicians. 

I was extremely grateful for the opportunity, which allowed me to write a poignant work that responded to our collective experience in navigating the pandemic and its lockdowns. 

To me, music bestows an ‘essential service’ for our mind, heart and soul – especially during times of upheaval. As a composer, I regularly feel the weight of this responsibility. 

For this piece, I wanted its...