Elodie Sablier - Cross­ing a silent Bridge

Cross­ing a silent Bridge from France to Aus­tralia

Provincial Living - - Contents -

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

[first] al­bum…”

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