Q & A with Benjamin Beilman

He’s back! Benjamin Beilman – who dazzled us with his virtuosic performance of Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in 2019 – returns to the TSO as soloist in the Violin Concerto by Jean Sibelius. A performer at the top of his game, Benjamin Beilman has performed in recent years with the Chicago Symphony, London Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Orchestra, Swedish Radio Symphony and BBC Scottish Symphony. We asked Benjamin a few questions about the special violin he’ll be playing.

TSO: Yours is a very valuable and special instrument. Can you tell us a few things about it?

Benjamin Beilman, Photo by Sophie Zhai

Benjamin Beilman: This violin, made by Bartolomeo Giuseppe Guarneri 'del Gesù' in Cremona in 1740, is certifiably one of the 5 or 6 most storied violins in the world. Its moniker "Ysaÿe" comes from the early 20th century Belgian virtuoso and composer, Eugène Ysaÿe, who played the instrument in the latter half of his career. Ysaÿe was so devoted to this violin that, when it was restored by a luthier in 1928, he asked for a handwritten label to be placed inside the violin. It reads "Ce del Jesus fut le fidèle compagnone de ma vie" (this violin was the faithful companion of my life.) When Ysaÿe died in 1931, he was granted a state funeral by Belgium. In the procession, this violin was carried on a red velvet pillow in front of his casket. Thankfully, they didn't bury it with him!

In addition to Ysaÿe, the French conductor and violinist Charles Munch, Yehudi Menuhin, Isaac Stern, Pinchas Zukerman, and Sergey Khachatryan have all performed on this violin. I am extraordinarily fortunate to have the use of this instrument on loan from the Nippon Music Foundation of Japan since July 2022.

TSO: Does it have its own seat when you fly?

BB: I have a nearly indestructible carbon fiber and metal mesh violin case, so I don't need a separate seat for the violin when I fly. Just a very careful eye on the overhead bin.

Handwritten label from the inside of the "Ysaÿe", added in 1928.

TSO: And what about the bow, is it noteworthy too?

BB: I am proud to say that I own several of my own bows, the most prized is one made by François Xavier Tourte in France circa 1815. It was once used by the Croatian violinist Zlatko Balakovic and has been my primary bow for the last 5 years. Audiences (and many players!) often think the violin is what gives each performer their distinct sound, but really, it's the bow.

TSO: You have to negotiate all kinds of technical challenges in the Sibelius Violin Concerto. Does having a violin of that calibre help and, if so, how?

BB: The Sibelius violin concerto is, at its core, about struggle. Sibelius wrote this concerto after abandoning his personal ambitions to become a virtuoso soloist; I find it highly significant that this concerto is his only work in the genre- almost as if this had to be his first and last word on the subject. The technical demands still haunt violinists today, which is probably exactly what Sibelius wanted.

A violin of this calibre is certainly helpful in terms of projection and color pallete. For instance, the opening of the second movement is one enormously long phrase that has to deepen and develop over 3 minutes. This violin produces a voluptuous but brilliant tone, so it's certainly a relief knowing I won't have to struggle to sustain this line. Sadly, there's no escaping the pyrotechnical demands of the outer movements. However, it's comforting to know that some of my favorite historical violinists have shed blood, sweat, and tears on the same fingerboard.


This emotionally powerful Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra program confronts the Black Summer bushfires of 2019-20

Paul Dean’s resonant first symphony is a “passionate plea from our planet to humans to act now”.

By Stephanie Eslake

Australia, you’ve done well over the past few years. You’ve lived through a pandemic. You’ve continued to support live music, even when the odds were so greatly stacked against you.

You’ve faced and overcome so many challenges that you might not think to look back on the event that came before – the Black Summer of 2019-20 when you experienced a bushfire season that ripped through more than 10 million hectares of our wilderness and communities.

Perhaps like composer Paul Dean, you made it through this environmental crisis with the help of music. After all, what better medium can unite us and reflect our collective experiences?

The Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra will open its powerful concert Fire & Water with the second movement of Paul’s Symphony No. 1 Black Summer. The composer calls his work “a passionate plea from our planet to humans to act now”.

Paul is based in Brisbane and while he didn’t lose his own property that summer, like most Australians he was deeply affected.

“Our dearest friend and best man at our wedding was severely burnt trying to rescue his dog, and spent an agonising month in hospital and suffers pain to this day,” Paul shares. He adds that many of his other friends were “extremely lucky” to avoid catastrophic outcomes.

Paul spent the long months of Black Summer constantly checking the radio and TV for updates, and now remembers the entire experience as “a massive nightmare”.

As confronting as it may feel, it's important not to downplay the value of Paul’s experience – or the music that emerged from it. The second movement of his symphony will be performed in nipaluna/Hobart in 2023, a year that’s expected to be hot and dry. It serves as a timely reminder of what we’ve lost, but also of the way our memories may spark positive action in the future.

To Paul, a marker of the performance’s success is bringing “thoughts to mind about how as individuals we might be able to create change, even in a small way”.

“I hope that the symphony brings the thought of bushfires back to people’s imagination and thoughts – and jolts the complacency that is so easy to fall into since we haven’t really had fires anywhere near that magnitude since 2020.”

Composing the feeling of Black Summer

Not only is Paul an Australian composer; he’s also a clarinettist with his foot in the doors of chamber music (as co-artistic director of Ensemble Q and founder of Southern Cross Soloists), orchestras (performing as soloist and principal player), festivals (as artistic director of Four Winds Festival), and education (as former artistic director of the Australian National Academy of Music).

The second movement of his Black Summer symphony features 10 minutes of music that Paul says he’s proud of. His writing involved “a particularly special composition process” that made use of his own instrumental section, as well as brass and strings, in a symbolic way.

When thinking about the music he would create and message he wanted to share, Paul conjured the fantastical idea of a climate conference with just three in attendance: land, air, and sea.

“The air is represented by the wind section, the land by the brass, and the sea by the strings,” Paul explains.

“The three have their say on the diabolic situation we find ourselves in, and then combine as a single entity to produce a passionate statement to humankind.”

The statement is delivered at a climactic moment of his music, and you will be left in its wake with the tune of the piccolo: “The song of the last bird alive, singing its last song.”

An emotional journey for Tasmanian audiences

This piece will open the TSO program under the baton of Alexander Briger. Alexander conducted the symphony in 2021 when it was commissioned and first performed by the Australian World Orchestra.

“I know Alex Briger brought this movement to life during its premiere, and I am very excited about hearing him conducting it again,” Paul shares.

Paul – who will also perform as a solo clarinettist at Fire & Water – returns to the TSO as a regular, having played with the island’s musicians for the past three decades (“I adore being in Hobart,” he adds).

The TSO program will continue with another Australian work, Time is a River by Graeme Koehne. You can hear it recorded by the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra before you head along to the live performance.

Paul describes the piece as “16 minutes of utter joy and peace…the perfect vehicle for quiet reflection for the audience after my symphony’s slow movement”.

“Music is about the thoughts, imagination, and reflection that a listener brings to the experience – and I really believe they will love the reflective calmness of Graeme's beautiful piece.”

Graeme composed Time is a River in 2010, and the work – which also highlights the clarinet – pays respects to his mother who passed away.

Paul opens up about his personal connection to the piece: “Graeme's piece also always reminds me of my mum who I lost a few years ago. Written in dedication to his mother after her passing, the incredible warmth that pervades his piece is mesmerising.”

Robert Schumann’s 1850 Symphony No. 3 in E-flat Rhenish will close the TSO concert with the spirit of “water” behind the program’s name. It’s a major-feel work that will ultimately send you away with feelings of peace and optimism as it transports you to another beautiful environment, the Rhine in Europe.

Book now to experience the powerful music of Fire & Water performed by the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra this August 3 in the Federation Concert Hall.



Why our new Director Artistic Development Kim Waldock thinks music education is a lifelong process

By Stephanie Eslake

Australia’s music industry is an ecosystem. TSO Director, Artistic Development Kim Waldock would even use the term “food chain” to describe the way artists are positioned in their classical music careers.

But this doesn’t make it a grizzly competition. Instead, Kim believes, it’s about providing everyone with the resources to evolve through their own creativity – from kindergarteners tapping at a tambourine right through to fully fledged orchestral musicians, and “the Simone Youngs” of the world.

Kim likes to think of the music industry as “one big continuum”, and believes “there are very few people who think that they haven't got something still to learn”.

Kim is a former classroom music teacher who this year commenced her TSO leadership role. With more than 20 years of experience in the education system – and positions with the Royal Opera House and Sydney Symphony Orchestra – Kim believes in “feeding people what they need as they grow”.

“That's what good teaching is.”

Music education is for everyone

“Listening to music does good things to your brain,” Kim says. “But it does good things to your heart as well.”

Kim is now working on TSO projects that connect the state’s orchestra with people of all ages. Initiatives like Mini TSO, Community Rehearsals, and the upcoming Deadline to Showtime can help listeners understand how classical music works – and inspire joy in the process.

“There are three things that make me excited about Deadline to Showtime. One is that it’s a world premiere. To be the organisation delivering a world premiere of anything is a privilege,” Kim says.

This action-packed production is the brainchild of creative thinker and former TSO Learning and Engagement Executive Jenny Compton (also behind the Violin Stories, Recorder Lift Off, and UKE BOX projects).

It features award-winning Tasmanian actor Jane Longhurst, and that’s Kim’s second point of interest – “the fact that it’s been created by Tasmanians”.

“It’s a chance for Tasmanians to really show what they can do as a creative team.”

The third exciting element, Kim reckons, is conductor Carlo Antonioli. Not only will Carlo lead TSO instrumentalists through this music – he’ll act and change his costume, too. Deadline to Showtime is not a typical listening experience; it combines action with music, story with sound.

Kim sets the scene: “We’re on holidays – and suddenly, the assistant to the orchestra gets a phone call saying, ‘Hang on, you’ve been offered a place in the festival of the world! And the orchestra is required tonight if you’d like to do it!’.”

So begins the story of Deadline to Showtime, and what happens next is a grand tale in which the orchestra comes back from holidays – starting with just a few instruments, growing to a larger group of strings and winds, and eventually uniting the entire collection of players.

But it’s not just the orchestra that will return to the Federation Concert Hall for this fictional festival. You’ll be able to join in when you attend, too – because the concert features a piece of music you can learn in advance, then play when you arrive. It’s called Power Up by Australian composer Holly Harrison. (It’s a novelty I’ve tested out in the past – and don’t worry, the piece is plenty of fun, and the only instrument you’ll need to bring along is yourself!)

“It’s a body percussion piece…a series of repeated patterns that you play using different parts of your body to make slightly different sounds,” Kim explains. You can learn it online before you come, and play along with a recording of the TSO to help build your confidence and get you in the mood for the performance. (It’s also a great opportunity for young concertgoers to develop their spatial awareness, reaction speeds, and hand-eye coordination!)

“When you learn music, it's great because it helps you think more clearly and in a more structured way,” Kim says, also noting the value of teamwork in music.

“But I think that's all secondary to the fact that music is an aesthetic experience that's really gratifying…and people often feel good after experiencing a performance.”

When music lovers come full circle

Some people feel so good after a TSO performance, they want to get involved again. And through events like Deadline to Showtime, the orchestra nurtures these people every step of the way.

Professional conductor Carlo Antonioli is returning to the orchestra after he participated in the 2015-16 Symphony Services International Conductor Development Program, which saw him work with the TSO along with other major orchestras across the country. He also took part in the Australian Conducting Academy 2018 Summer School, an educational program presented by the TSO in partnership with the University of Tasmania.

Composer Holly Harrison returns after her involvement in the TSO’s educational programs. In 2018-19, she participated in the Australian Composers’ School, and in 2020 was named ACS Composer in Residence (through which she wrote Power Up, which Kim notes is “getting a bit of traction around the world”).

Carlo and Holly’s achievements are examples of the TSO’s contribution to the “food chain” of the classical music industry. Kim is happy to help foster this culture of creativity.

“Knowing the TSO's track record in artist development, for composers and conductors in particular – and knowing the strategy that CEO Caroline Sharpen has formed with the board – really got me enthusiastic about the possibilities,” Kim says of joining the team.

Because of the size of the island’s orchestra, Kim thinks it’s well placed to start “changing the industry, or think about sustainability from an artist development level”.

Of course, not everybody who attends concerts like Deadline to Showtime will want to become a conductor or composer in their professional lives, as Carlo and Holly did. And that’s okay, too. Because at the end of the day, the most important thing is for a child to come along to the concert and feel like “letting go and dancing”, or for their parents to “relive that experience of being a child, listening to music for the first time”.

“That's going to be quite a special thing for this concert.”

Experience the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra as they present Deadline to Showtime in the Federation Concert Hall, 6pm June 16. Book your tickets online.



Hear the sense of adventure in Henning Kraggerud’s polar-themed composition

The Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra and Arctic Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra present a rare co-commission in Polar Opposites.

By Stephanie Eslake, TSO News April 2023

“The story of Romantarctica starts with a white landscape,” Henning Kraggerud reveals.

“Surprisingly romantic feelings are evoked in the sparse environment. You meet yourself in a new way – your innermost feelings cannot hide from you as easily as in a metropole."

Henning’s composition paints a picture of the northernmost and southernmost parts of the world. Informed by the curiosity and adventure of mankind, his music evokes the vision of Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen, and British competitor Robert Scott, as they each attempted to be the first to reach the South Pole.

Roald succeeded: in 1911, his team raised the Norwegian flag in the sub-zero air. He then travelled up to Hobart to break the news.

“We are invited to look at their innermost secrets and the wildest dreams in their hearts,” Henning says of Romantarctica, which projects the spirits of these early polar pioneers. The Norwegian composer-violinist was also inspired by Fridtjof Nansen, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate who from 1893-1896 travelled farther north than anyone in the world had ever been.

“In this piece, we find ourselves present simultaneously both in the north and in the south, and in different times of the past and future.” Each region, Henning believes, conjures “an aura of mystery and magic, which inspires heroism and thinking”.

The Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra’s concert Polar Opposites unites musicians from both sides of the world; from orchestras as far north and south as you can hear. Henning, who is artistic director of the Arctic Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra, will conduct and perform violin. His co-soloist is Andrew Seymour, the TSO’s principal clarinet.

Henning has previously travelled the 16,000km journey to play with the TSO, and he observes similarities between these cool-climate regions.

“From the fresh air to the ice-cold ocean waters, the people are remarkably warm and open, both in the very south and the very north.”

Romantarctica is a co-commission between Henning’s local Arctic Philharmonic and the TSO. Polar Opposites marks its Tasmanian premiere, and the world premiere of another sort: it’s the first time this music will be presented with clarinet as one of the solo instruments.

Romantarctica is composed with highly flexible scoring from the start. There is one higher and one lower solo instrument,” Henning says. That’s why you may never hear this work performed in the same way again, as “anyone who learns one of the solo parts can perform it in multiple settings – even with pianist, string quintet, chamber orchestra, sinfonietta, or varying sizes of symphonic orchestra”.

Equally rare is the type of clarinet audiences will hear rising above the orchestra: Andrew’s recently acquired basset clarinet. As the woodwind expert explains: “This extends the range of my regular clarinet down by four semitones.”

“Henning asked for this in his music, and I was happy to be able to get this new instrument – so I'm looking forward to giving its debut performance here!”

While the music captures the excitement of treading new territory, it also honours the more sombre events that took place in these early days of polar exploration. Though Robert Scott reached the South Pole just weeks after Roald, he never made it back, perishing with his team in extreme weather conditions. Henning composed a recurring funeral theme to mark the sacrifice. He includes further musical devices such as vibrato, to hint at the freezing pioneers’ emotionally demanding journey and their trembling bodies; and “crackling noises” to portray the threatening glaciers surrounding them.

The result of Henning’s musicality, according to Andrew, is “unashamedly romantic”.

“With the subtitle 'Heroes from the past and hopes for the future', it conjures images of the polar regions and the great voyages of the explorers seeking to discover unknown places.”

Watch: Henning Kraggerud performs the world premiere of Romantarctica in a chamber version.

Book now to hear the Tasmanian premiere of Romantarctica featuring Henning Kraggerud (conductor and violin) and Andrew Seymour (clarinet). Polar Opposites takes place at 7.30pm May 12 in the Federation Concert Hall, nipaluna/Hobart.



The Grigoryan brothers pay tribute to the Tasmanian wilderness in this awe-inspiring concerto

The Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra is set to perform Nigel Westlake’s stunning ode to our island’s ancient rainforests.

By Stephanie Eslake, TSO News April 2023

The North West of lutruwita/Tasmania is home to a cool-temperature rainforest – the second-largest in the world. Leatherwood, myrtle, and Huon pine trees are abundant in this area known as takayna/Tarkine. The species found in this wilderness are so old, they can be linked back to the ancient supercontinent of Gondwana.

So when you’re talking about millennia, it certainly makes a quarter of a century seem like a small amount of time in comparison. But as far as friendships go in the here-and-now, 25 years is nevertheless impressive, and this is the number of years in which composer Nigel Westlake and guitarist Slava Grigoryan have come together to produce some of Australia’s most evocative music. The artists’ recent collaboration Toward Takayna will be showcased in a Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra event honouring this stunning rainforest and the musicians’ admiration for the environment.

“For Lenny and myself – and obviously for Nigel as well – Tasmania is an incredibly important place,” Slava says. He will perform this concerto for two guitars with his brother Leonard Grigoryan.

“It’s somewhere we absolutely adore being, visiting, playing, working with other people, and we’ve got a long history of doing that there.”

Slava and Leonard have toured Tasmania since the early 2000s, exploring the region during their travels from Queenstown to the coastal village of Stanley. Between these places are roads that can take you on journey around the Tarkine’s 477,000 hectares of wilderness.

“The isolation, the beauty of it, the density of it – there are a lot of things that make you really think about that area,” the guitarist notes.

“Then you’ve got the areas that have been mined and turned over, and there’s the combination of seeing the lunar landscape in certain areas – and what this could actually all turn into is incredibly confronting.”

The region was first home to the Tasmanian Aboriginal tarkiner people, who inhabited the land for 40,000 years. takayna/Tarkine has been mined for resources since the 1870s, and the historic Mount Lyell Mine is largely responsible for the lunar landscape to which Slava refers.

Environmental observations underpin Toward Takayna. Slava notes how activist Bob Brown flew in for the premiere, calling the work “a spellbinding tribute to the beauty and wonder of Australia’s largest temperate rainforest in the Tarkine wilderness…twenty minutes of lilting, uplifting music”.

Despite the subject matter, Toward Takayna was not premiered in Tasmania: it was first intended to be written and performed at the 2020 Adelaide Guitar Festival, of which Slava is director. The premiere was cancelled due to the pandemic – but much to the surprise of the artists, Nigel decided to go ahead and compose the piece anyway.

“He knows how to write for the guitar so well, and he knows what we can do. We’ve obviously had that relationship for such a long time,” Slava says.

“[It] was very much a piece that was ready and beautiful, and certainly in terms of the thematic material it was something so special to be a part of.”

When playing Toward Takayna, Slava likes to visualise the physical environment. He likes to imagine and remember how it feels to be immersed in this awe-inspiring landscape.

“It’s very natural, very real, and a very honest response to how we feel about the place.”

One of their previous collaborations was an ode to the natural world: Antarctica – Suite for Guitar and Orchestra, which Slava and the TSO performed in 2021 under the baton of Johannes Fritzsch. Just as he did in Antarctica, Nigel uses guitar as a medium that can evoke the wonder of the wild. In Toward Takayna, it’s the “earthiness, woodiness, and percussiveness” of the instrument that conjures these feelings, Slava believes.

“I think the piece itself is evocative and beautiful, and it wants to depict the rarity and the beauty of this place. It’s as simple as that.”

While Nigel conducted its premiere, Benjamin Northey will now lead the TSO through its Tasmanian premiere. With other conductors, Slava would offer insights into the music and instrument that may help guide an interpretation – but not with Benjamin.

“Ben is the conductor I think is closest to Nigel… In fact, when Nigel was getting ready to conduct properly for the first time, he was spending a lot of time with Ben on conducting techniques.

“Ben definitely feels like the other cog in the machine that is Westlake’s music, because he’s been so involved for such a long time.

“So with Ben, we don’t have to say much. It just happens naturally.”

The same could perhaps be said of Slava’s relationship to the TSO – an orchestra that produces a sound he’d know anywhere in the world.

“There’s something that’s incredibly recognisable, incredibly special about what the TSO does from a purely technical perspective. And that’s always been a pleasure to experience and to collaborate with.”

Not only has Slava performed with the TSO – he has also worked with them in the recording studio. In 2008, they played on ABC Classics album Baroque Guitar Concertos (also with Benjamin Northey at the helm). It was nominated for Best Classical Album at the ARIA Awards.

“I know so many musicians from overseas that I’ve toured with and collaborated with who have never worked with Australian orchestras, but know the TSO and know their recordings.

“That’s something that’s a credit to the orchestra, and I think a very valuable asset – and I’m sure it’s one that’s only going to keep on growing and building.”

Buy your tickets to hear Slava and Leonard Grigoryan playing Nigel Westlake’s Toward Takayna in Tarkine/Takayna, 6pm May 4 in the Federation Concert Hall, nipaluna/Hobart.



5 of your all-time favourite film scores

By Stephanie Eslake

We all love watching an epic movie in the cinema. The companion experience is listening to an epic film score in the concert hall.

The Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra is presenting a concert for lovers of movies and music alike. Hear your favourite cinematic themes from Nigel Westlake, Ennio Morricone, and Howard Shore as they boom against the walls of the Federation Concert Hall.

Before the big event this April, we’re warming up with five of your all-time favourite film scores. You’ll get to hear each one played live when you come to the show (and a few more, too!).

#1 John Williams – Jurassic Park: Theme

If you expected to see John Williams on this list, you were dead right. Sixty-six million years dead, to be exact. In case you’ve been living under a rock so big that it sheltered you from the film Jurassic Park, here’s what it’s all about: scientists Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) and Alan Grant (Sam Neill) investigate a theme park where dinosaurs have been revived through cloning.

This big-budget feature ($63 million, albeit returning $1.046 billion at the box office) is a bit terrifying, but mostly awe-inspiring. John Williams’ monumental score evokes all the wonder of humans who set their eyes upon creatures that defy laws of nature and time.

Williams’ Jurassic Park theme is bursting with Hollywood optimism. Spielberg’s science fiction film allowed its 1993 audiences to ponder what could be made possible through modern science: the reversal of extinction – big time. Williams opens this majestic theme with solo French horn; a feeling of tension as we question the ancient-turned-present world we’re about to confront. Then it all comes together as flutes hint at the glorious melody to come, and strings take it away.

Almost three decades after this score was released, Australia voted it number 8 on the ABC Classic 100 countdown – Music for the Screen. Like Spielberg’s dinosaurs, a good score never dies.

#2 Nigel Westlake – Babe Concert Suite

In 1995, Babe was introduced to the world, and that little piglet stole our hearts. This endearing soundtrack captures all the warmth of the wannabe sheepdog as he trots around the countryside, fellow barnyard animals frolicking at his curly tail. Farmer Arthur Hoggett (James Cromwell) can see great potential in Babe, and Nigel Westlake’s score brings these two characters together for a delightful tale. It’s cottage-core at its finest.

The Australian composer achieved Best Film Score at the 1996 APRA Awards for Babe. (Westlake would later win another for 2003 comedy feature The Nugget.) But what few listeners may know about this quaint soundtrack is the range of source material underpinning its central theme.

The music is a cover of Scott Fitzgerald and Yvonne Keeley’s 1977 reggae hit If I Had Words. (You might recall it was sung by animal-like voices in Babe.) That song was itself a reference to Camille Saint-Saëns’ Symphony No. 3 – a masterpiece for organ. Westlake reimagined the main melody, and infused it into his charming Babe score.

Westlake conducted the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra through his Babe score, alongside a screening of the film, just a few years ago. The TSO is also set to perform another Westlake composition in Tarkine/Takayna on 4 May 2023.

#3 Howard Shore – Symphonic Suite from The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

Ever heard of a leitmotif? This term describes the recognisable melodies attached to individual characters or events in a production (and we can thank Wagner for the concept). Howard Shore’s The Lord of the Rings score is filled with them.

In the 2001 music for the first film, The Fellowship of the Ring, we hear leitmotifs thar remind us of the grassy hills of Hobbiton. We root for our Middle Earth team as they scale mountain peaks, backed by that unforgettably heroic theme uniting them in their quest. Even Saruman and his evil orcs get their own leitmotif – industrial clanking of percussion against laboured brass as they prepare for battle.

Shore won an Academy Award for Best Original Score for his Fellowship music. He took home another Oscar for The Return of the King, but the Fellowship was where it all started – and it topped the charts right across Australia, Europe, and the United Kingdom. In 2022, Australia voted the soundtrack in at number 2 on the Classic 100 – Music for the Screen (after, you guessed it, Star Wars).

#4 John Williams – Three Pieces from Schindler’s List

While Jurassic Park might be a good dose of ‘90s nostalgia, John Williams’ score for Schindler’s List should be taken far more seriously. (In fact, both were produced in 1993. Anecdotally, director Spielberg narrowly missed out on attending the recording session for the former soundtrack, because he was in Europe filming Schindler’s List.)

The gut-wrenching violin melody achieved an Oscar for its ability to speak to the atrocities of World War II. John Williams told a live audience at a concert in Boston that after watching the first cut of the film, he needed to “walk around the room for four or five minutes to catch my breath” before telling the director there should be “a better composer” hired for the score. “I know,” Spielberg told him, “but they’re all dead”.

The themes of Schindler’s List may have felt close to home for Spielberg; his own father had lost close to 20 relatives in the Holocaust. Spielberg’s latest collaboration with the 91-year-old John Williams is The Fabelmans, which tells the semi-autobiographical story of the director’s Jewish upbringing and experiences of antisemitism in mid-century America. Their soundtrack was nominated for Best Original Score at the 2023 Academy Awards; it lost to another World War II drama – All Quiet on the Western Front composed by Volker Bertelmann (Hauschka).

#5 Vangelis – Chariots of Fire

Whether you’re in the Blade Runner or Chariots of Fire camp, you’ve got to admit: Vangelis knows how to write an iconic score. The Greek composer was famous for using electronic instruments in his film music – not that unusual now, but a pioneering move when he first started writing for the movies.

There’s scarcely a filmgoer today who doesn’t know the melody to Chariots (even if they haven’t seen the film). The simple but stirring music doesn’t try to revive the 1920s era in which the sports epic is set. It was recorded with a few acoustic instruments – namely piano and percussion – but its originality shone through the use of a Yamaha CS-80 synthesizer.

The movie is based on the lives of sportsmen Eric Liddell and Harold Abrahams, who competed in the 1924 Olympics. Vangelis’ music was also performed during the 2012 Summer Olympics (the London Symphony Orchestra playing it under the baton of Simon Rattle), and the composer dedicated the score itself to his father Ulysses Papathanassiou who, while not quite an Olympian, was a passionate sprinter.

Australia voted Vangelis’ Oscar-winning Chariots score at number 7 on the Classic 100 – Music for the Screen.

Listen to each of these scores and More Music from the Movies with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra. Dan Golding presents and Vanessa Scammell conducts this concert at 7.30pm April 21 in the Federation Concert Hall.



Tan Dun conjures the ancient wolf in this double bass concerto

Tan Dun imagines the wolf is the “mirror of human being”. We once shared grass and sky with this ancient creature, the composer says – but today that mirror is shattered, and we couldn’t be further from the spiritual lives of our ancestors.

“We are short of the grassland, we are short of the forest, and everything is missed,” Tan laments in an interview. It’s through his 2014 composition Wolf Totem that we may come closer to the voices of our distant past.

He connects with these voices through the “future voice of human being, which is the orchestra”. And the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra presents Tan’s double bass concerto Wolf Totem as part of its 6PM Series launch in nipaluna/Hobart.

This three-movement work was a joint commission from the TSO with Taiwan Philharmonic, St. Louis Symphony, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, and Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam. TSO Principal Double Bass Stuart Thomson returns to play the solo part, having played its Australian premiere and performed it in China to more than 10,000 people.

Playing Wolf Totem for 10,000 people

Stuart made his first trip to China with Wolf Totem in 2016-17, when conductor Marko Letonja led the TSO through cities including Nanjing, Xiamen, and Shanghai. Fast-forward to 2019, and Stuart would meet the composer himself – performing the concerto under Tan’s baton.

“He is a very nice man; I really enjoyed the chance to work him. He is a bit of a rockstar in China – very well-connected, a real mover and shaker!” Stuart recalls.

The Tasmanian-based musician faced some challenges when it came to interpreting this brand-new concerto. When he first started rehearsing, no recordings were available to him. So Stuart did his research: he read the book Wolf Totem by Jian Rong, which inspired the composition. He listened to countless recordings of the erhu, a two-stringed Chinese instrument that’s more than a thousand years old.

Tan calls for the double bass to mimic the expression of the erhu and traditional Mongolian Horse Fiddle styles.

“It turned out the double bass has a lot of erhu qualities at the top of the range of the instrument that I really like exploring,” Stuart says.

This combination of Western and Eastern music is a common thread among Tan’s compositions. It’s a style he has perfected to the level of winning Academy, BAFTA, and Grammy awards for his work.

Exploring history and legend

Tan’s music often delves into historical and spiritual themes. For his epic 2018 oratorio Buddha Passion, the composer travelled to the Silk Road and researched murals and carvings in the Mogao Caves – some as old as 366AD. He shared the story of Qin Shi Huang in his 2006 opera The First Emperor, and composed an Academy Award-winning score for Ang Lee’s 2000 historical fantasy Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

Tan’s Wolf Totem explores the cultural and spiritual story of the Mongols and the extinction of the Mongolian wolf. You can hear these tales in the music and, according to Stuart, these programmatic features make it “such an accessible concerto to listen to”.

“You hear running horses throughout the fast section of the first movement, particularly at the end with horses running away. It’s a ricochet effect with the bow on the solo bass.”

Pizzicato (the plucking of stringed instruments) is used in the second movement to depict wolf cubs, Stuart says, while the main opening theme recalls a “Mongolian folk tune that is really well known in China”.

“I love playing the piece. It has plenty of challenges, and requires me to discover many different colours on the bass across the entire range of the instrument.”

Double bass takes centre-stage

Beyond the story that underpins Wolf Totem, it’s also a significant feat to perform a double bass concerto and compete with the dynamics of the orchestra, managing the balance between higher and lower frequencies.

“There are parts of the work that are quite heavily scored, and the soloist has to dig deep to project the sound. As a result, the accompaniment has to be quieter than usual.”

To accommodate, the TSO uses “unobtrusive” amplification known as ambient miking. It gives Stuart a boost when he needs it, but with the microphones placed at such a distance that it doesn’t distract the soloist with an extra source of sound.

It may be the first time some listeners have heard the double bass in a solo capacity. Stuart hopes Wolf Totem might “change how they listen in the future – from the bottom up!”

“Lyrical passages are fantastic on the bass. It can have the most beautiful singing tone.”

Also on this 6PM Series program will be works by Grieg and Australian composer Holly Harrison. The concert is designed to be easy and relaxed for the after-work crowd (and “early enough for kids to come along”).

“Live music is good for the soul and sparks great joy. In today’s uncertain world, live music offers a short but welcome distraction from devices, computers, politics and wars!”

BOOK NOW: Experience Tan Dun’s ‘Wolf Totem’ in our 6PM Series. Stuart Thomson will perform under the baton of Eivind Aadland at 6pm March 16 in the Federation Concert Hall, nipaluna/Hobart.



Backstage with the creative masterminds behind Violin Stories

By Stephanie Eslake, TSO News

Violin Stories is the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra’s latest educational offering. Ames, David, and Gibson are the starring characters of this video series – but you’ll be surprised to learn that each of these names refers not to a person, but a violin inspired by real-life instruments.

It’s a striking visual series that combines gorgeous pen and ink drawings with classical arrangements and new Australian music. But these resources took time to produce, and came to life through extensive creative collaboration. Visual artist Mardi McSullea was inspired by historic architecture and fashion; writer Jennifer Compton spent time researching violins throughout history. Australian composer Jessica Wells arranged handpicked classical music – then wrote her own themes to link each work together. And it was all recorded with ensemble players and soloists of the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra.

In this story, we take you backstage with three of the creators behind this project, and uncover the mysteries and magic that became Violin Stories.

Finding inspiration in true musical tales  

TSO Learning and Engagement Executive Jennifer Compton (who you might recall from Join In resources such as Recorder Lift Off and UKE BOX) is the mastermind behind Violin Stories. She conceptualised the series, wrote the script, handpicked the music, and provided the narration – a process spanning the past few years.

Jenny confesses she came up with the concept for Violin Stories for her own enjoyment. Then she realised that enjoyment could be shared, so she discussed the idea with the TSO. Her first drafts arose after watching and reading intriguing true stories about instruments throughout history.

The documentary Orchestra of Exiles sent Jenny down the rabbit hole of googling Bronisław Huberman, a Polish violinist who helped save a thousand people during the Holocaust; he is known as the “Oskar Schindler of musicians”. But his violin was stolen – first in Vienna, after which it was quickly recovered; then in 1936 during a fundraising tour, and from there it was lost for 50 years. Today, the Gibson Stradivarius in question is in the trusted possession of violinist-conductor Joshua Bell. This extraordinary story laid the foundations for the story: The Amazing Tale of Gibson.

Italy’s Guarneri family of luthiers would spark the idea for David the Lopsided Violin. Jenny read about a Guarneri violin that had been produced with faults; her original narrative linked this fact with another real violin named ‘David’ Guarneri del Gesu, which was designed in 1742 and in recent years has been performed by San Francisco Symphony concertmaster Alexander Barantschik.

The story A Forever Person for Ames is connected to comparatively modern history. The Ames, Totenberg Stradivarius was stolen from Polish-American Roman Totenberg in the 1980s, and returned to the family after the centenarian’s death in 2012. Jenny says: “I found it heartbreaking that Roman Totenberg died before the violin was returned, and I began searching for more information about this violin. Before I knew it, I had written A Forever Person for Ames.”

Handpicking the music

Though they are based in the genre of historical fiction, each of the Violin Stories are nevertheless educational: they shed light on the true history behind famous stringed instruments, as well as culture and society over the eras. As Jenny explains, “each story unfolds in chronological date order across hundreds of years, so the stories cover the evolution of the chamber ensemble, string orchestra, and the symphony orchestra”.

Like the string players and fellow music lovers watching Violin Stories, Jenny also has an interest in classical works for these instrument configurations. Joining the Sydney Symphony Orchestra flute section at just 18 years of age, Jenny went on to forge an impressive career as a performer and arts administrator with a variety of orchestras. And through her educational role with the TSO, Jenny has helped build the careers of many early career composers – all while developing projects that bring classical and new Australian music to the fore. So naturally, the process of selecting the music that would help tell these Violin Stories was an enjoyable one – but also a process she was driven to get right.

“Playing and listening to classical music has always been an emotional experience for me, so I loved finding just the right music to support the emotion of each of my stories,” Jenny says.

“The stories offer an opportunity for children and adults to connect to their own emotions and feelings, and I hope that the sweet and generous nature of each violin character reminds listeners how important it is to engage with others from a place of empathy and compassion.”

Jenny selected music that would tie into these ideas, choosing pieces for “dramatic impact or emotional impact”. She engaged Australian composer Jessica Wells to craft original compositions as well as arrangements of existing music that would accompany initial audio recordings. Later, Mardi would design a visual representation of these narratives.

New music to connect us to the past

Jessica has taken part in previous TSO educational initiatives: her orchestral work Zodiac Animalia features in TUNE IN, and she was a tutor for the prestigious Australian Composers’ School in 2017 and 2018. (In April 2023, she will lead the first-ever workshop for film score composition to be presented by ACS.) Still, she describes Violin Stories as “an artistic challenge” because of the unique way it tackles different artistic mediums.

“The ‘stories’ can work as audio-only podcasts, concert works with narrator, educational play-along scores for string students, and then the added bonus of the stunning artworks to create engaging videos bring it to another level,” Jessica says.

Jessica’s own illustrious background is in concert and screen music – a combination useful to a project like Violin Stories. The series contains excerpts of classical music, while Jessica composed “underscores” that link these pieces together.

Violin Stories combines many elements of music that I love: classical music greats, fascinating historical stories about music, and film-score like underscores that underpin an emotional narrative,” Jessica says.

These underscores also bring an extra dynamic to the spoken narrative, with particular words and phrases becoming musical cues.

“The timings were absolutely crucial, so I approached the work from a screen music angle, using [mock-up] recordings of Jenny’s voice reading the script to compose under, chopping and moving phrases around to make them fit the music perfectly,” she says.

“Just like a film director, Jenny would send me back notes for revisions, until we hit on the perfect version.”

One example of Jessica’s music lining up with the narrative was in A Forever Person for Ames.

“I used sound effects with the ensemble to depict a modern police station - using a glissando-sliding violin in the distance as a police siren, and a snare drum for a typewriter, with busy random pizzicatos for the chit-chat of voices in the busy room.”


Jessica worked with musicians from the TSO – oboe, clarinet, bassoon, a string quartet, and percussion – to play her original arrangements of music that would depict the various times and places. Versions of Rule Britannia, America the Beautiful, French military music, and Mozart’s Requiem all help spin the magic of “the diverse locations inhabited by Ames the violin”.

“In ‘Dies Irae’ [from Requiem], I gave the choral parts to the woodwinds, the strings taking on the orchestral backing, and Gary Wain playing a large floor tom covered with a cloth to emulate the timpani. This was effective for a dramatic part of the story where the violin is stolen from backstage!”


TSO Principal Horn Greg Stephens conducted this TSO ensemble through the recording process, which spanned 2021-22. One of the most demanding roles was for TSO Concertmaster Emma McGrath, who in just two days recorded a variety of concerto excerpts, playing the solo parts in The Amazing Tale of Gibson and balancing these sessions with her regular TSO performance schedule.

After the music audio was recorded and edited for each story, Jenny and the Violin Stories sound engineer and audio producer Don Bate would team up with Tasmanian actor Jane Longhurst to record the story narration. Don then edited the music bed and narration recording together.

Video editor Brad Harris would later work with Mardi and Jenny to create each visual presentation using the digitised images of Mardi's illustrations.

“These days – recording the narrations and creating the visual presentations – were possibly the most intense days of the entire process, but no blood was spilled!” Jenny laughs.

Violin Stories also features separate play-along arrangements for those wishing to interact with the stories. For these, Jenny provided Nara Dennis with the same scores she had given to Jessica Wells, but Nara crafted new arrangements as a standalone project: they don’t accompany the videos, but are instead sets of scores for string ensemble that are available for sale through TSO House.

Painting a historical picture

Jessica was excited to watch the way her music would line up with the visuals once Violin Stories were completed. The videos feature Mardi’s stunning pen and ink drawings, which Jessica believes “illustrates the history of these violins and the musical landscapes from which they came”.

“Mardi has captured historical figures in their appropriate costume, the cities and buildings where people gathered to play and listen to music together, and the emotional moments where despair sinks in, and triumph blossoms.”

When Mardi started working on Violin Stories, she was most interested in the way the violin itself is the protagonist.

“The violin refuses to be cast as an inanimate object of solely monetary value and prestige, but asserts a responsive voice as an observer and unique time traveller,” Mardi explains.

“My intention throughout has been to create ‘scenes’ where the viewer of any age might slip into the story, whether mundane or highly theatrical – a little like entering a diorama animated by the music, and where the individual might rest long enough to fall in time with the image.”

While Jenny researched the history behind the violin stories, Mardi researched the “interiors of grand music rooms in aristocratic and stately homes; walled gardens and country estates; concert venues and green rooms”. She explored the archives of libraries and the internet to dig up old photos and programs, postcards, books and art magazines to find era-appropriate styles.

“Costume, hair styles, military uniforms, luthier’s tools, music stands, traveling cases and violin cases of different periods all have their place,” she says, also noting the way these icons can signify social class.

“Politics and power can be read in the music, dress code, and architecture.” However, Mardi observed a “tender intimacy between violin and violinist that seemed to occur far from centres of power in gardens or the land”.

The collaboration between Jenny, Jessica, Mardi, Don, Brad, and musicians of the TSO all serve to remind us that “an orchestra is not an island, it is very much part of its community”, in the words of Jenny.

“The TSO has always taken the areas of education and community engagement seriously and understands that activities generated in these areas can make a lasting contribution to the wellbeing of our community.”

The free Violin Stories resources are now available on the TSO website to watch, listen to, and play along with.



TSO Chorus is throwing open its doors for an epic-scale group sing

By Stephanie Eslake, TSO News 2022

Beethoven’s Ninth is one of the best-recognised choral works: its lively ‘Ode to Joy’ still feels charged with inspiration despite having been composed two centuries ago. It was a fittingly bold work for the TSO Chorus to present earlier this year – the first time in 25 months these talented volunteer singers could perform on the Federation Concert Hall stage, COVID restrictions finally permitting. TSO Chorusmaster June Tyzack recalls how it felt “liberating and uplifting”, marking a triumphant return for the talented artists she leads. Unstoppable after this resounding comeback, the TSO Chorus performed another epic – Mozart Requiem – in November.

“Singing from memory in both these works gave choristers greater capacity to connect with and respond to every gesture of the conductor, and to deliver a message directly to the audience,” June reflects. Throughout the year, these choristers also sang in the atmospheric TSO Obscura series in May alongside didgeridoo player William Barton; they performed Britten’s War Requiem with the West Australian Symphony Orchestra Chorus in August. Their contribution to choral music in Australia is substantial, and now they are preparing to open their studio doors, and invite the audience into the music for an event even greater in scope than their impressive string of recent concerts.

In 2023, the TSO Chorus will welcome the public into Voices en Masse – an epic-scale performance of Brahms’ A German Requiem. It will feature hundreds of choristers from across Australia including members of the Sydney Philharmonia Choirs and West Australian Symphony Orchestra Chorus; soprano Eleanor Lyons and baritone Simon Meadows will feature as soloists. Any member of the public can venture into the Federation Concert Hall to sing along with them.

“I think singing is for everyone, and singing in a choir is an experience like no other,” June says. She prepares to navigate this huge project that balances internationally acclaimed professionals with beginners still finding their voice. She adds: “The experience of these choristers will guide the novice, and elevate the community chorister.”

It’s the first concert of its kind for the TSO. The big event takes place on 5 February, but the practice begins earlier. Singers can start their own private practice from their homes (or the park, or the beach) before two formal rehearsals on 3 and 4 February. There’ll also be two preparatory rehearsals on 31 January and 2 February in the TSO Studio for those wishing to fully immerse themselves in the experience of being a chorister.

It will be all-encompassing to participants and audience members alike as the Federation Concert Hall will be configured to allow singers to perform from the stalls.

While there will be highly experienced performers on stage, no level of experience is actually necessary for anyone keen to get involved. Instead, there will be links to learning tools for those who register. A general ability to follow along with the music score will be helpful to participants, and the score provided will come with expression markings from conductor Simon Halsey – the guest maestro in residence who June says “is passionate about engaging with the community and letting everyone experience choral music”.

“He is dynamic, energetic, charismatic, funny, and has inspired masses of amateur choristers to sing iconic choral works with professional orchestras and soloists around the world.

“Backed by experience and research, with anecdotes and good-natured banter, time flies in Simon’s rehearsals.”

Simon is an English conductor who specialises in choral music, having received his education at the Royal College of Music. As a director, he has worked with the City of Birmingham Symphony Chorus, BBC Proms Youth Choir, and London Symphony Chorus. And as a chorister, he has sung in the King’s College, Cambridge and New College, Oxford choirs.

Perhaps it’s starting to sound a little intimidating to the community chorister. But June has some passionate words to say about that.

“To some, a choral-orchestral concert may seem to be high-brow and elitist. And whilst not all repertoire is for all people, music is certainly common to all – as is the voice,” she states.

“By choosing [music] appropriately, inviting the community into our workplace to witness what we do – not just as an observer, but as a participant – can be life-changing.

“Having access to the state’s most accomplished musicians – and the voices of an auditioned choir – can be an experience that radiates out, inspiring their less-formal groups, school music programs, and therapy groups, where music and singing play significant roles in mental health programs, to name just a few outcomes.”

TSO Chorus Coordinator Nadeena Beck echoes these sentiments and believes music provides a range of benefits to those who engage – “physical, mental, cognitive, and social benefits”.

The University of Oxford has published research to this effect, highlighting the way group singing “helps forge social bonds…exercises the brain as well as the body…has shown to be effective in pain relief…can play a role in sustaining a healthy immune system”.

Nadeena adds: “To be immersed in hundreds of voices singing in harmony is a powerfully emotional and exhilarating experience in itself! It will definitely send shivers up your spine.”

(That sensation is called frisson – and if it happens to you, you might have a special brain.)

“The opportunity to sing with a professional orchestra, incredibly experienced singers, and conducted by the best choral director in the world is a fantastic opportunity,” Nadeena says.

If you’re already feeling excited to throw your voice with the TSO Chorus, another event is coming up soon – and you might already know some of the songs.

Christmas with the TSO is a festive carol-singing event happening on December 10. It’s an unofficial singalong, so you’re not invited to the rehearsals like you will be for Voices en Masse, but you’re certainly welcome to bring your whole family and enjoy the Christmas cheer.

For the TSO Chorus, it’ll be work (albeit fun work). June says they’ll be getting ready for “many hilarious moments and thoughts about the summer holidays – despite bleak winters and snow-infused lyrics – to lighten and colour these end-of-year rehearsals”.

Bring your family and take part in some light carol singing in the Federation Concert Hall when you watch the TSO Chorus and orchestra perform Christmas with the TSO, 7.30pm December 10.

Registrations are now open for Voices en Masse, with the final concert of Brahms’ A German Requiem taking place at 2.30pm February 5 in the Federation Concert Hall. View all participant information and rehearsal dates on our website. Tickets are also available to audience members wishing to attend.


6 concerts you really shouldn’t miss when the TSO turns 75

By Stephanie Eslake, 2022

We’re turning 75! It’s a huge achievement for the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, and we have a huge program to match. There’ll be international guests, chamber music in a historic estate, and a new series of 6PM shows that’ll fill in that gap between work and dinner.

So where do you even begin?

To help you get started as you navigate the TSO’s 75th-Anniversary Season, we’ve put together some of our top picks.

You can jump straight into the full program any time you like, and even Create Your Own Package. (Single tickets will be on sale 17 January 2023, except Voices en Masse – Brahms Requiem, which is on sale now. Subscriptions are already available, too.) Here, we’re giving you a first taste of what’s in store.

Start raiding your wardrobe, because you’re invited to dress up to the nines for our first special event on the list.

1. 75th-Anniversary Gala Concert

It wouldn’t be right to start our list without the first major event of the season – the 75th-Anniversary Gala Concert. We’ve selected an explosive program of classical works that’ll turn your night into a party.

What’ll you hear?

Shostakovich’s Festive Overture has been described as boasting “vivacious energy spilling over like uncorked champagne” – a natural choice to get you into the spirit. Then, you’ll see our first soloist of the year: Czech pianist Lukáš Vondráček playing Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No 1 in B-flat minor.

To celebrate our Diamond Jubilee, the TSO will play alongside next-gen musicians from the Australian National Academy of Music. With so much talent at the ready, it means we can bring you Rachmaninov’s epic Symphonic Dances.

How do you book?

This 25 March 2023 event features in our Federation Concert Hall Series. This means you can wrap it into one of our packages of 6 or 12 concerts and save up to 20% off the ticket price. Or if you’re after something more customisable, Create Your Own Package and save up to 15% off the ticket price.

Can’t get to the venue? This concert is also live streamed for subscribers. Then, it’ll be played in an On-Screen Event at Woolmers on 16 April 2023 – tickets to those go on sale in 2023.

Warm up with…

…this video of Eivind Aadland and the TSO in action.

2. Sibelius Violin Concerto

We’re bringing in so many soloists to celebrate our 75th anniversary – it’s hard to know who to start with! But Benjamin Beilman is one violinist you won’t want to miss. He performed Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto with us in 2019, so he’ll be a familiar face when you see him on stage.

What’ll you hear?

Before we get to the concerto, let’s talk Torrent. This composition was penned by Harry Sdraulig – one of our past Australian Composers’ School participants, opening our concert with a touch of the new.

Next up is the “poised and monstrously talented” Benjamin Beilman (Philadelphia Inquirer) who will play the only concerto Sibelius ever composed – Violin Concerto in D minor.

Nielsen’s Symphony No 2 ‘The Four Temperaments’ is also on the program, and the whole concert will be led by Danish maestro Giordano Bellincampi.

How do you book?

This concert on 28 July 2023 is another pick from our Federation Concert Hall Series. So you can work it into your chosen package, or watch it as an On Screen Event Woolmers on 13 August 2023. This concert is another one you’ll be able to stream from home too, so you might like to check out a Digital Subscription.

Warm up with…

…this close-up look at Benjamin’s extreme skill level as he plays through some solo pieces from Ysaye and Bach. Just wow.

 3. Sky Burial – Faure Requiem

We’ve shamelessly stolen this top pick from Eivind Aadland – our Chief Conductor and Artistic Director who reckons it’s a highlight of the 75th-Anniversary Season. He says: “I personally am delighted to be conducting Sky Burial – which combines Fauré’s Requiem with video projections by artist Mat Collishaw.”

What’ll you hear?

A program of striking French music with some stand-out soloists.

First up is Rameau’s operatic Les Indes galantes, then Debussy’s Five Preludes (arr Zender). Your two featured voices are soprano Rachelle Durkin, and baritone Samuel Dundas.

Then, Faure’s Requiem is woven into a remarkable visual narrative called Sky Burial, Mat Collishaw’s beautiful exploration into ageing and mortality, nature and fantasy, dreams and death.

How do you book?

This is a Special Event on 11 March 2023 in the Federation Concert Hall, presented in association with Ten Days on the Island. You can book your single ticket, or add it as an extra to your Fixed or Create Your Own package.

Warm up with…

…a look at the artist Matt Collishaw’s previous large-scale video installation Sordid Earth, including some words from the artist himself.

4. Tarkine/Takayna

Our 6PM Series is a new initiative that acknowledges the inconvenient gap between work and dinner, then fills it with great music just for you.

What’ll you hear?

Nigel Westlake was inspired by our island’s north-west wilderness when he composed Towards Takayna. Benjamin Northey will conduct this local premiere, and you’ll hear the soloists for whom this piece was written – critically acclaimed guitarists Leonard and Slava Grigoryan.

Finnish composers Sibelius (with the classic work Finlandia) and Rautavaara (with the folk-inspired Symphony No 7 ‘Angel of Light’) will also feature on the program.

How do you book?

This one-hour concert takes place on 4 May 2023, and it’ll be performed live in the Federation Concert Hall or live streamed for subscribers. If the 6PM timeslot is as convenient for you as it is for us, there are three more gigs in the 6PM Series you can attend; they all fall on Thursdays.

Warm up with…

…a bit of Nigel Westlake nostalgia – his magical score to Australian farm film Babe. (Did you see him conduct this score to our movie screening a few years ago?)

 5. Mendelssohn Violin Concerto

Grace Clifford is one of Australia’s brightest young musicians – at just 16 years old, she took second place in the 2014 ABC Symphony Australia Young Performer of the Year awards. The violinist has already developed an international career, so it’s a privilege to watch her on the Federation Concert Hall stage.

What’ll you hear?

Grace will play Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E minor. Also on the program is an Australian piece by our resident composer Holly Harrison: Centrifuge. Eivind Aadland will conduct, and he opens and closes this concert with Grieg – first the Lyric Pieces, and ultimately the Norwegian Dances.

How do you book?

This is another from our Federation Concert Hall Series, so you can book your package of 12 or 6 concerts – or Create Your Own Package. This 1 December 2023 concert is live streamed for subscribers too, and you’ll be able to book single tickets in January.

Warm up with…

...this video of violinist Grace Clifford performing Schubert's beloved 'Trout' quintet with the chamber players of Selby & Friends. (You may even recognise the viola player!)

6. Music at Woolmers III

You’ll be pleased to know Brass in St David’s is returning this year. But that’s not the end of the story for this bold family of instruments: the Overland Ensemble features some of our leading brass players, and they’ll perform in the north of the state as part of Music at Woolmers.

What’ll you hear?

Tasmania’s own Overland Ensemble featuring Tim Jones (tuba), Mitchell Nissen (bass trombone), David Robins (trombone), and more. They’ll take you through a program that’s exploding with variety – think Rossini, Debussy, Tomasi, Verhelst, Barber, Jones, and Gershwin! It’ll all reverberate off the walls of this historic country venue in Longford.

How do you book?

There are five other concerts in the Music at Woolmers chamber series, and they explore a range of instrument configurations – saxophone, cello, voice, you name it! Book tickets for this 23 September 2023 event on the website this January, or subscribe to a 4 or 5 concert package for the full chamber series.

Warm up with…

…our Principal Tuba Tim Jones performing the second movement of Vaughan Williams’ Tuba Concerto.

These are just a few of our top picks from the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra’s 75th-Anniversary Season. Explore the full program, or dive straight in and find the subscription that suits you. We look forward to seeing you for our Diamond Jubilee in 2023!