Research | Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra Commission

The College of Arts, Law and Education's Oceanic Cultures and Connections have supported an orchestral commission with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra and the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS) through the UTAS Composers’ Project.

TSO Commission participants. Image courtesy: Toby Frost
Image: TSO Commission participants. Image courtesy: Toby Frost

Selected composition students from Tasmanian Schools have been working with Conservatorium of Music tutor Maria Grenfell to produce compositions inspired by the three core IMAS research themes: Ecology & Biodiversity, Fisheries & Aquaculture, and Oceans & Cryosphere.

On the 25th March a workshop was held at IMAS where student composers and TSO composer Scott McIntyre were invited to presentations on the research of IMAS researchers Neville Barrett, Karen Watson and Gabriela Pilo. Both the students and Scott were then asked to write short orchestral pieces responding to the research.

Scott was particularly inspired by Gabi Pilo’s presentation on the life and death of an ocean eddy and has been working on the piece titled, Mesoscale Fanfare. See more information about Gabi Pilo’s research on ocean eddies below.

Scott’s composition was workshopped by the TSO in the Federation Concert Hall on September 15th as part of the final TSO Composers’ Project workshop. TSO musicians performed student compositions before invited guests at IMAS on September 16th. Public performances of Mesoscale Fanfare will be occurring in 2018.

TSO Commission Workshop - Scott McIntyre
TSO Commission Workshop Performance
TSO Commission Workshop Performance

Images: TSO Commission Workshop Performance with Scott McIntyre Images courtesy: Paul Radford


Gabi Poli, PhD Student
Image: PhD Student Gabi Pilo
Image courtesy: Gabi Pilo

Gabi Pilo is a Physical Oceanographer pursuing a PhD degree in Quantitative Marine Science at the University of Tasmania. Her current work is in the evolution of eddies formed in the East Australian Current region. Ocean eddies are the equivalent of atmospheric hurricanes, but often live longer than their airborne counterparts. Eddies from the East Australian Current, for example, can live up to 5 years!

Satellite image of core eddy. Credit: Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS)
Image: Sea Surface Temperature measured from satellite showing a large warm core eddy off south-eastern Tasmania rotating counter-clockwise.
Credit: Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS)

Eddies are a massive amount of water rotating and moving across vast distances of the ocean. They can be as big as Tasmania in diameter and 2000m deep – that is 51 Hobart Wrest Point Casino towers piled up! But that is not the most fascinating part - as eddies propagate, they interact with other features of the ocean, such as the ocean bottom, seamounts, the continental shelf, other eddies and currents. They can also carry small marine life between different regions, and attract larger animals, such as turtles and mammals, to their interior. Gabi has been working with eddies for 6 years and she says,

“they never cease to fascinate me. I am very excited to see Scott McIntyre’s interpretation of these fascinating oceanic features”.


In 2017 Oceanic Cultures and Connections is supporting interdisciplinary projects fostering cross-disciplinary exchange and providing mentoring opportunities for early career researchers. Funded by the larger Marine, Antarctic and Maritime University of Tasmania research theme that OCC sits within several projects are engaging with ocean related topics from a variety of disciplinary perspectives.

Banner Image Credit: Annalise Rees, Oceans of the Unknown

Published on: 21 Aug 2017 11:07am