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Turbulent Times

Conductor Alexandre Bloch with soloist Satu Vänskä.
Music by Ravel, Szymanowski, Debussy and Prokofiev

A young male musician with long hair holding a trombone with a wood pillars in the background
Photo credit: Lisa Maree Williams

Step into a musical time machine as our flagship orchestra transports you to an era of great societal upheaval and political uncertainty. And no, it is not 2020.

Concert Date

Saturday 6 April, 7:30pm
Federation Concert Hall
Hobart / nipaluna

Over a century ago, composers were responding to major historical events that would change society forever. World Wars I and II compelled composers to create music that told the stories of those times. Ravel and Debussy, musical trailblazers, used innovative harmonies and lively orchestrations to break free from traditional music rules.

Between the wars, Szymanowski mixed in Polish folk tunes into his Violin Concerto, capturing in amber his emotional tribute to his country. Prokofiev’s Symphony No.5 is like a victory dance, full of energy and spirit.

This concert is a journey through the sounds of these amazing composers, each with their own style, pushing the boundaries of what music can be, and capturing the essence of the most turbulent of times – before our own that is.


RAVEL La Valse
SZYMANOWSKI Violin Concerto No.2
PROKOFIEV Symphony No.5

Satu Vanska

Born to a Finnish family in Japan, violinist Satu Vänskä! has developed an international profile through her role as Principal Violin with the Australian Chamber Orchestra, a position that she has held for the past twenty years. In that time Satu has both directed and performed as soloist with the ACO, an ensemble regarded as one of the greatest chamber orchestras in the world, hailed for its striking virtuosity and innovative programming.

Satu’s development of solo violin projects is reflective of her desire to continually evolve as a musician and to courageously embrace new musical challenges. She has a passion for dynamic programming that explores the link between old and new music, alongside presenting boundary-blurring crossgenre collaborations, that resonate with today’s classical music audiences.

As a soloist, Satu has performed with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, at the Sydney Opera House, at the Melbourne Recital Centre (opening their Great Performers Series in 2019) and as part of Tasmania’s Mona Foma festival. Further afield, Satu has performed with London’s Aurora Orchestra in the 2018 London season of Weimar Cabaret with the late Barry Humphries, the Arctic Chamber Orchestra, Sinfonia Lahti and at the Festival Maribor in Slovenia.

Satu is the founder, curator, front-woman, violinist and vocalist of the critically acclaimed ACO Underground, the ACO’s electro-infused, experimental spin-off project. With ACO Underground, Satu has performed collaborations with artists including Midnight Oil’s Jim Moginie and the Violent Femmes’ Brian Ritchie in venues ranging from New York’s Le Poisson Rouge to Sydney’s Phoenix Central Park, and has appeared as part of the Vivid Festival. In 2022 she formed Satu In The Beyond with Richard Tognetti and producer Paul Beard. This is a band that has evolved from ACO Underground over the years with the aim to present audiences with originally written music.

Satu took her first violin lessons at the age of three in Japan, before her family relocated to Finland when she was ten, where she continued her studies with Pertti Sutinen at the Lahti Conservatorium and the Sibelius Academy. She later studied at the Hochschule für Musik in Munich as a pupil of Ana Chumachenco.

Satu performs on the 1728/29 Stradivarius violin on loan from the ACO Instrument Fund.

Alexandre Bloch

Colour portrait picture of Alexandre Bloch smiling looking at the camera.
Photo by Marco Borggreve

French-born Alexandre Bloch assumed the position of Music Director of Orchestre National de Lille at the start of the 2016/17 season. From 2015 – 2021, Alexandre was also Principal Guest Conductor of Düsseldorfer Symphoniker.

Highlights of Alexandre’s final season as Music Director in Lille include a full Sibelius symphony cycle, concert performances of George Benjamin’s Written on Skin and collaborations with internationally acclaimed soloists; including Patricia Kopatchinskaja and Alice Sara Ott. He will conclude his tenure with a performance in Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw. Guest conducting for the 2023/24 season includes performances with the Geroge Enescu Philharmonic, a return to Israel Philharmonic, and debuts with City of Birmingham Symphony, Australian Youth Orchestra and the European Union Youth Orchestra.

Recent highlights include highly successful debuts with Dresdner Philharmonie, Hamburg Philharmonic, Utah Symphony, Israel Philharmonic, Bayerische Staatsoper (Thomas), Berner Symphonieorchester, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin (concerts and commercial recording with Daniel Müller-Schott); Tiroler Landstheater Orchester Innsbruck , Gurzenich-Orchester Köln and his acclaimed debut for Opéra de Lyon conducting George Benjamin’s Lessons in Love and Violence. He returned to Lyon for Le nozze di Figaro in 2023. Work with Orchestre National de Lille has included many symphonic programmes, a critically acclaimed Mahler cycle, performances at the Festival de St Denis and at the Philharmonie de Paris, Stravinsky’s major ballet scores and commercial recordings. Earlier seasons have taken him to Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Orchestra of the National Centre for Performing Arts Beijing and
Vancouver Symphony, Musikkollegium Winterthur, Royal Northern Sinfonia, BBC National Orchestra of Wales and a tour to Kuwait with London Symphony Orchestra.

Past symphonic guest conducting has also included Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Orchestre National d’Ile-de-France, Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse, Orchestre National de Lyon, Orchestre National de France, the Nash Ensemble, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, the Orchestra of Opera North, Norwegian Radio Orchestra, Oslo Philharmonic, Danish National ChamberOrchestra, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Orchestre Métropolitain (Montréal), Brussels Philharmonic, Ulster Orchestra, Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie, Filharmonia Poznanska, Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Adelaide Symphony Orchestra and Australian Youth Orchestra. He has conducted opera in concert with Orchestre National de Lille, including Bizet’s Les Pêcheurs de Perles (Lille and Paris, Théâtre des Champs-Elysées), Bernstein’s Mass and Carmen. Opera highlights also include Donizetti’s l’Elisir d’Amore at the Deutsche Oper am Rhein and Tosca at Opera de Lille.

Shortly after his Donatella Flick Competition success he made his debut with Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, replacing Mariss Jansons at short notice to conduct three performances of a challenging programme including Richard Strauss’ Tod und Verklärung and a Jörg Widmann commission for large orchestra. He was named one of “2012’s Talents” by the ADAMI (French Performing Right Society) and was a conducting fellow at the 2012 and 2013 Tanglewood Music Center Festival. He also drew the attention of conductors such as Mariss Jansons, Charles Dutoit, Pierre Boulez, Bernard Haitink, Sir Mark Elder and Esa-Pekka Salonen. Under Alexandre’s direction, the Orchestre National de Lille was named a finalist for the Gramophone Orchestra of the Year Award 2020.

Born in 1985, Alexandre first graduated with diplomas in cello performance, harmony and conducting from Tours, Orléans and Lille. He then entered the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris, to further his studies in composition and conducting. In 2012, he completed his Master’s Degree in Conducting in the studio of Zsolt Nagy, prior to gaining a Diploma and the Sir John Zochonis Junior Fellowship (2012/13 season) at the Royal Northern College of Music. Admired for his musicality, enthusiasm and energy, his First Prize at the 2012 Donatella Flick LSO Conducting Competition attracted international attention and brought him the opportunity to serve as Assistant Conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra.

Commercial releases (Alpha Classics/Outhere) with Orchestre National de Lille include a new recording of Mahler Symphony No. 7, two recordings with Veronique Gens shining light on the work of Ernest Chausson and Francis Poulenc, and a recording of Ravel’s La Valse and Rhapsodie Espangnole. Upcoming releases with Lille will include Bartok Concerto for Orchestra. Many of the orchestra’s concerts have been broadcast on its virtual concert hall “Audito 2.0”, or on TV/radio, including France Musique and Mezzo

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