As a leading orchestral double bassist Ben became a permanent member of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra in 2011. He has performed regularly as a guest of many other professional orchestras including the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, Queensland Symphony Orchestra, Adelaide Symphony Orchestra and Melbourne Chamber Orchestra. Ben has regularly performed as Principal and in Principal positions with the Melbourne, New Zealand and Tasmania Symphony Orchestras including as acting principal of MSO in 2020-22 and guest principal on the TSO’s 2016/17 tour of China. Ben has appeared as a recital and a concerto soloist with various orchestras, has been a featured artist on many film and television soundtracks, several chamber music albums and with chamber music ensembles including the Melbourne Ensemble, Plexus, and at various festivals including the Melbourne Arts, Port Fairy and Peninsula music festivals.
As a renowned jazz musician Ben performs regularly at Australia’s premier venues with many of the finest jazz musicians including James Morrison, Joe and Olivia Chindamo, Paul Grabowsky, Michelle Nicole, Carl Mackey, Matt Jodrell, Julien Wilson, Phil Noy, Mark and Nichaud Fitzgibbon, Paul Williamson(s), Sam Keevers, Sam Bates, Lance Ferguson’s Menagerie and Danny Fischer. He has performed at numerous Melbourne International Jazz festivals, Port Fairy Spring Music Festival and Melbourne Music Week events. Ben has released two celebrated albums ‘Duo’ and ‘Stravinsky’ with James Sherlock and ‘Under Paris Skies’ with Hetty Kate. As one third of the Hue Blanes Trio alongside Danny Farrugia he performed in Hue Blanes’ 2017 MIJF performance for the ‘PBS Young Elder of Jazz Award’ as well on as their debut album release ‘Straight Chaser’ with Pound records. Ben has been also a member of revered Melbourne bebop institution Bopstretch since 2018. Ben features on Fem Belling’s Age Victoria Music Awards nominated album ‘Now/then’, Nathan Slater’s debut, and several releases by the celebrated Luke Howard.
In the contemporary and free improvisation field Ben has a unique and innovative trio with Anthony Schulz and Eugene Ball including a 2021 album, has performed with Ronny Ferella’s Wayfarers, Johnannes Leubbers Dectet and the ACME ensemble at the 2017 Melbourne International Arts Festival among many others. In the contemporary popular sphere Ben is featured on Missy Higgins’ 2018 single ‘Arrows’, has recorded with Julia Stone, The Bamboos, The Cat Empire’s Felix Riebl and Ross Erwin, performed with Meow Meow and ASO for the Adelaide cabaret festival 2022 and performed with the Katie Noonan and the Brodski quartet at the Melbourne Recital Centre.
As a student, Ben Hanlon was a member of the Melbourne Youth Orchestra, Australian Youth Orchestra, Sydney Youth Orchestra and attended the Australian String Seminar on scholarship. Ben was awarded a Victorian Premiers award for his VCE music studies, was invited to be a “Top Cats” performer and was a finalist in the 2005 James Morrison ‘Generations in Jazz’ scholarship. He completed the Applied Performance Program at the Australian National Academy of Music (ANAM) from 2005-2007 with Steven Reeves and Alex Henery. His undergraduate studies took him to the prestigious Colburn Conservatory of Music in Los Angeles where he completed a Bachelor of Music from 2007-2011 with David Moore, Paul Ellison, Leigh Mesh and Peter Lloyd. While studying abroad, Ben attended a range of exclusive music festivals including the Sarasota Music Festival in Florida, USA, the Pacific Music Festival in Sapporo, Japan, and gained orchestral experience with Miami’s New World Symphony among many others.
As a music educator and bass tutor Ben has lead masterclasses, taken assessments and ensembles and been on audition panels at Melbourne University Conservatory of Music, Queensland Conservatory, Monash University, Victorian College of the Arts, ANAM, Colburn Performing Arts Academy and teaches Double Bass at VCASS. He has been a mentor and tutor for AYO national music camp, AYO, MYM, Scotch College and Zelman Symphony. He also has volunteered his time for the MSO’s Pizzicato Effect and fellowship programs in addition to many of the MSO’s other educational activities.
My earliest musical memory is…
When I got out of my first Bass lesson when I was seven and I carried my Bass across the school oval to my mum’s car and then we spent quite a while trying to get it in, and she was upset because we couldn’t fit it in the car, and that I had carried it on my own across the oval because I could have smashed it.
The music that changed my life is…
In terms of playing, I really didn’t enjoy playing the Bass until I was about 12, and the thing that made me enjoy it was joining the school jazz band and I really started enjoying the instrument.
What is your favourite Melbourne Symphony Orchestra memory?
Beethoven Symphony No.9 at the Beethoven Festival in 2011 because I hadn’t played it before