Elodie Sablier - Crossing a silent Bridge
Crossing a silent Bridge from France to Australia
Elodie Sablier has been compared to the likes of Michael Nyman, Philip Glass, and even Debussy. An exquisite mixture of classic French romanticism and contemporary Australian, this French ex-pat’s albums are highly popular in Australia and her native France. Debbie McKinstry spoke to Elodie about her beginnings in Provence, her music, and why she now calls Australia home.
Elodie Sablier’s music takes you to another place. An accomplished pianist and composer, she creates wave upon wave of soothing, floating notes that carry you far away. Her latest album, Silent Bridge, has become my go-to CD after a long, stressful day. As soon as I put it on, I feel calm, relaxed, and ready to face whatever the next day brings.
Having fallen in love with Elodie’s music, I was so excited to talk to this lovely young French woman, who now calls Australia home, and to discover where her beautiful compositions stem from.
Elodie tells me her passion for music began at the tender age of five. Her brother gave her an unusual birthday present for a five-year-old – a tape recording of Ravel’s piano concertos. It began a love affair with French music that was to last long into adulthood. Even today, Ravel and his contemporaries – Debussy, Satie and Faure – are major influences on Elodie’s compositions.
Despite the fact that they lived in a very small country town in Provence, Elodie’s family gave her a wide exposure to all areas of the arts, from painting and sculpture to books and, most importantly, classical and contemporary music.
“I started learning the piano when I was six years old,” Elodie says. “I studied piano for ten years in my small country town… until I joined the Conservatoire of Lyon” (where she won first prizes in composition and performance) “and later the Conservatoire of Paris.”
After graduating from the Paris Conservatoire, Elodie’s career began in earnest. She played numerous recitals in European cities, and her programs usually included her favourite French composers. It was at this time, however, that she also began to branch out from the conservative classical scene.
“I started to play jazz,” she says, “and discovered my love for improvisation. I composed music for silent movies too, and played live at cinema festivals.”
In 2009, Elodie bought a one-way ticket to Australia. “I had been in Europe all my life,” she tells me, “I wanted to see the world”. She found a job as a cocktail pianist, met some like-minded musicians and artists and began to collaborate on some intriguing projects.
“My first artistic projects were with international artist Paul Thomas… I composed music to support [his] paintings of the world’s greatest composers, which now adorn the City Recital Hall in Sydney, and we also had some projects where I played the piano while he painted in front of an audience. Me being inspired by the live painting, and him being inspired by my live music, and thus pushing each other into one, and then suddenly very diverse, directions.
“I have always been attracted by this collaboration across mediums. Music and cinema, music and paintings, etc. Trying to push the boundaries between the various arts.”
From these collaborative projects, it was only a matter of time before Elodie would be brave enough to go it alone. She has Australia to thank for that bravery, she says. “If I had stayed in France, I am not sure that I would have recorded my [first] album, Vertigo. As a classical musician, during all your upbringing you are being judged based on perfection. You… need to be extremely confident to risk yourself, to [play people] one of your compositions.
“In Australia, I was pushed from the start by people telling me I should record what I write. I did, and my first album has sold beyond what I expected, with my compositions being aired on many classical radio [stations], people from all around Australia sending me emails to ask for the music scores, and now I [have released] my second album. My compositions are now getting some radio airing in France – exported from Australia to France!”
Elodie released Vertigo in 2013. She quickly followed up this solo piano album with
Silent Bridge in December 2014 – an album that not only showcases her own gifts, but also those of cellist James Yoo and violinist Anna McDonald. Her compositions for this latest album include two beautiful settings of poems by French poets Victor Hugo and Charles Baudelaire, spoken and sung by Elodie herself (a woman of many talents).
“Poetry has got an important place in my life,” she says, “and I believe formed an important part of my inner sensitivity. Adapting these poems into music was a [humbling] experience I thoroughly enjoyed.”
Elodie is herself a poet (see her biographical poem, opposite). Although, as she writes, she is “exiled from my land/Far away”, she has fully embraced her highly creative Australian self and is now a proud Australian citizen.
“When I passed the test to become an Australian citizen, on the chapter on Australian values, there was a very strong focus on the fact that ‘we should always give each other a fair go’,” she says. “This may sound a bit clichéd, but this value adds a lot of optimism in everyday life, and encourages you to move forward… I think that if I had stayed in France, I wouldn’t have deepened my creativity as much as I currently do in Australia, amongst Australian people.” Elodie’s albums, Vertigo and Silent Bridge, are available on iTunes. The CD versions are available from Fish Fine Music Store in Sydney and Thomas Music in Melbourne, or online at www.elodiesablier.com
“Poetry has got an important place in my life, and I believe formed an important part of my inner sensitivity.”
In 2009, Elodie bought a one-way
ticket to Australia. “I had been in Europe all my life, I
wanted to see the world...”
“If I had stayed in France, I am not sure that I would have recorded my