Night & Now – Symphony of Sound for Flute with DSO & ZMSO

Elena and Sally

Elena Kats-Chernin and Sally Walker at Coogee Beach, Sydney, Australia photography Miranda Lawry

Uzbek-Australian contemporary music composer Elena Kats-Chernin, for her close friend flautist Sally Walker, has completed a new Flute Concerto Night and Now.

When you put your creation into the hands of a player as brilliant as Sally it comes as a bonus that she instinctively knows how the piece works and how to play It.” said Elena.

Composed to showcase Sally’s musical gifts, Night and Now will have its world premiere in Australia in the top end with the Darwin Symphony Orchestra October 24 2015 under the direction of Matthew Wood, followed by the Zelman Memorial Symphony Orchestra on December 5 down under in Melbourne, with Mark Shiell conducting.

Sally Walker

Flautist Sally Walker, courtesy artist, photographer Miranda Lawry and Zelman Memorial Symphony Orchestra

With fine rhythmic sense, orchestral colour and an evocation of distant places, the adventurous Darwin Symphony Orchestra (DSO), one of the youngest orchestras in Australia founded in 1989 will premiere Night and Now as the centrepiece of its program.

It will be flanked by the Ballet Suite No 1 by Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975) and Symphony No 2, B minor by Alexander Bordodin (1833-1887).

Conducted by Mark Shiell the program for the Zelman Memorial Symphony Orchestra (ZMSO) will feature Night and Now alongside Suite from The Nutcracker by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893) and the Symphonic Dances by Sergei Rachmaninov (1873-1943).

Elena Kats-Chernin believes her and Sally Walker’s friendship and mutual respect for each other will add yet another dimension to the performance of her work.


Elena Kats-Chernin, composer of Night and Now

…”Sally often hears sketches of my work as I’m writing them and she has great insight into my processes” Elena commented.

Interestingly it was conversation with a bank teller at Coogee Beach in Sydney some fifteen years ago that led Elena Kats-Chernin to meeting flautist Sally Walker and to forging their fortuitous and solid friendship. Elena was the bank teller’s mum.

She writes ‘acid-funk-new age” he said, which made Sally smile at the time, as she knew the composer’s work.

Chance, ‘the way I came to meet with Sally was just meant to be” said Elena, whose star has continued to rise ever since she composed the brilliant music for the opening ceremony of the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. Her music for ballet, opera and the concert stage is now acclaimed and performed all over the world.

Currently Elena Kats-Chernin is in Berlin where her new children’s opera Schneewittchen (Snow White) is opening November 1, 2015 at the highly regarded Komische Oper Berlin, voted in The International Opera Awards 2015 as ‘Opera Company of the Year’. With a strong-willed princess, a quilting white bunny, a stepmother involved in a beauty craze and 77 small, helpful dwarfs, it will be a tour de force.

Sally Walker is an Australian flautist with a world-class reputation with considerable experience playing, touring and recording with major European orchestras including the renowned Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra.

She has performed as Guest Principal Flute with the City of Birmingham Orchestra, BBC National Orchestra of Wales and NDR Radio Philharmonie Hannover.

Mark Shiell & Zelman SO

Mark Shiell Conductor and members of the Zelman Memorial Symphony Orchestra, Melbourne

After playing full-time with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra. from 2003-2005, she returned to Australia in 2006 and is currently the Lecturer in Flute at the University of Newcastle and touring with the Australian Chamber Orchestra

Tchaikovsky’s mighty score for The Nutcracker ballet is like a Xmas comfort blanket for many, sumptuously pretty, those images of Sugar Plum Fairies fairly dance in your head.

It is also exotic in parts, smouldering in others, while yet full of festive fun and fantastic dances. It tells the tale of Clara helping her toy that has come alive to conquer the evil Mouse King in battle and turn into her handsome prince who will share her life.

There is so much that happens along the way it cannot fail to be captivating.

Mark Shiell and the  ZMSO are known for giving new life to music of the heart, which this clearly was for Rachmaninov who wrote on the score of the Symphonic Dances ‘Allilulya’ and ‘I thank Thee, Lord’ when it was completed.

Full of passion, a big lush beautiful piece, music to make you want to move, Symphonic Dances combination of classical elements and modern gestures are ripe for interpretation.

The history of Melbourne and the arrival of symphonic music in the state of Victoria is entirely linked to the 19th century musician Alberto Zelman (1832-1907) born in Trieste Italy who migrated to Australia where he married an English born gifted singer Emily.

They had both come out of a tradition in England and Europe where a town could not be called a city unless it built a cathedral, and a permanent symphony orchestra was a sign of a city’s musical maturity,

Alberto Zelman Jr

Alberto Zelman Junior, founder of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra

Their son Alberto junior was born in Melbourne in 1874 with music it seems, running through his veins, which was essential to his life’s blood. He would become the first Australian to conduct the London and Berlin Philharmonic Orchestras

In 1906 full of vision and with a clear view to the future Alberto Zelman Junior founded the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra (MSO) which consisted of mainly amateur players with only a core of players who were being paid; professionals. This is how it continued until he died in 1927.

It performed after his death until 1932 when it was converted to an all-professional orchestra, leaving the amateur players to form one their own, naming it the  Zelman Memorial Symphony Orchestra in honour of their beloved, much admired leader,

The ZMSO comprises some sixty players performing classical, romantic and twentieth century symphonies and concertos with fine guest soloists. They perform four concerts a year in Melbourne, while some are taken to country centres such as Daylesford and Yea.

It has in 2015 premiered the new works A Song for Gallipoli by George Dreyfus as well as Sinfonietta, composed specifically for the orchestra by Harry Sdraulig, the Zelman Symphony-Melbourne University Emerging Composer 2015.


Zelman Memorial Symphony Orchestra at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl – 22 February 2014 Curtain-raiser concert before a crowd of over 7000 people. By kind invitation from the MSO to mark the joint origins of the MSO and Zelman Symphony. Conductor: Mark Shiell

A highlight of Mark Shiell’s time at the ZMSO to date was playing before an audience of over 7,000 people at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl in 2010 by invitation from the MSO. The concert marked the joint origins of their orchestras and the Zelman’s 80th birthday celebrations, a special experience for all.

The ZMSO recently re-interpreted Symphony No 3 Eroica by Ludwig Van Beethoven (1712-1773), playing to the tempo in accordance with the master composer’s handwritten instructions on his manuscript.

All in all the state of music making in Australia is in a good place, a cautionary reminder though, that we should never rest on our laurels, but continue to champion skill and innovation, imagination and derring –do.

80th Anniversary concert

Zelman Memorial Symphony Orchestra, Melbourne Town Hall, 80th Anniversary Concerts

Night and Now Elena Kats-Chernin’s new Flute Concerto for Sally Walker and its premiere at the top and bottom of Australia with the DSO and ZMSO playing a feast of passionate music sounds like the perfect pre Xmas celebration for us to all enjoy with family and friends.

Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle, 2015

Elena Kats-Chernin’s Flute Concerto Night and Now


Darwin Symphony,
24 October 2015

Conductor: Matthew Wood
Soloist: Sally Walker (flute)

Program Darwin
Ballet Suite No. 1
Elena Kats-Chernin Night and Now (world premiere)
Symphony No.2, B minor

Darwin Convention Centre
Stoke’s Hill Road,
Darwin, Northern Territory



Zelman Memorial Symphony,
5 December 2015

Conductor: Mark Shiell
Soloist: Sally Walker (flute)

Program Melbourne
Suite from The Nutcracker
Elena Kats-Chernin Flute Concerto Night and Now
Rachmaninov Symphonic Dances

Eldon Hogan Performing Arts Centre,
Xavier College, Barker’s Road, Kew,
Melbourne, Victoria



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