Hans Blok

Hans Sampath Blok (b. 1990, Sri Lanka) is a Dutch-Norwegian composer, conductor, and multi-instrumentalist based in Elverum, Norway. Over a span of ten years, he attended the conservatories of Rotterdam, The Hague, Trondheim, and Oslo, studying multiple facets of classical music. He obtained his master’s degree in composition in 2017.

Hans’s musical versatility has led to a rich variety of artistic projects across the globe, exploring the elements of traditional music and dance, alongside early music and contemporary art. Currently, he is researching how his creative output, -primarily shaped through Western education and culture-, can be enriched with the philosophy and aesthetics surrounding the art music of Sri Lanka, his country of birth.

Hans started composing at an early age and had his first piece, A Taste of Paradise, premiered by the Dutch Wind Ensemble at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam after winning the Young Composers Competition in 2006. He enrolled at the Rotterdam Conservatory the following year.

He began his career composing cinematic pieces, as well as pop and jazz. The chamber music he composed during this period had a distinctive neo-classical style, exemplified by Sonatina, which received the jury prize at the Latvian Classical Music Festival in 2013.

Over the years, Hans began to define his musical language as a composer through his artistic works. He gained notable recognition for GRACHT, performed by ensemble Asko Schönberg in 2015, as well as his first orchestral piece, WitchHunt, premiered by the Trondheim Symphony Orchestra a year later. Both pieces were also programmed at the Young Nordic Music Festival in Reykjavik (2017) and Umeå (2018).

Hans primarily composes in an acoustic, score-written format. His sound expands on the principles of polytonality, adhering to the traditional understanding of tension and relaxation between intervals and harmonic textures. Melodies build on rhythmic, rhetorical motives that evoke expression through the intensity of dynamics and articulation. Hans his works often dramatize a specific event or theme artistically, making his music more accessible to the listener. 

Anthropology, human rights, and environmental threats have always been driving forces behind Hans’s artistic productions. From an early age, he began to explore the architecture of traditional music and cultural heritage, visiting over fifty countries. In the coming years, Hans will be researching the music of Sri Lanka to examine how his musical language can be further personalized through diversified perspective and knowledge.

Hans began studying classical trumpet at the conservatory of Rotterdam in 2007, alongside trombone, horn, and euphonium. He later specialized in historical performance practices at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague, where he started playing the baroque trumpet, cornetto, and recorder. This led to various collaborations with early music ensembles and orchestras, including the Nordic Baroque Orchestra. In addition to his passion for early music, Hans found great creativity and expressiveness through classical experimental improvisation, fully utilizing his flexibility as a performer and composer.

With an extensive understanding of distinct performance practices, both from a composer’s and musician’s perspective, Hans delved into conducting and ensemble coaching. He conducted and artistically directed projects domestically and abroad, often incorporating choreography and thematic presentations in his productions to provide additional layers of drama.

Hans is the founder and director of The Heritage Project, a community art concept guiding children to create music-theatre performances based on their cultural heritage. Since 2012, this project has been organized in eight different countries, working with refugees and indigenous people.

With a wide range of skills, Hans has demonstrated to be a valued teacher, delivering comprehensible guidance and inspiration. He developed the music method BrassClass, – published by Musikkforlagene -, aiming to transform any beginning brass player into a highly skilled and informed musician over 120 chapters. Aside from teaching privately since 2008, Hans has held masterclasses on brass playing, conducting, composition, and improvisation, collaborating with orchestras and music conservatories in Norway, Latvia, Malaysia, Ecuador, Sri Lanka, and the Netherlands.

Hans lives on an organic farm in Elverum, Norway, where he explores the possibilities of permaculture and nature restoration. Occasionally, he holds environmental workshops for children, often in conjunction with community art projects. Hans has been passionate about nature since childhood and spends most of his free time on wildlife photography and birdwatching.


The yak is a species of long-haired cattle found throughout Central Asia. They are sturdy, heavily built animals, well adapted to high altitudes and low temperatures. In the Tibet-region yaks are used as beasts of burden. When farmers travel through steep mountain slopes to find new pastures for their cattle, the yaks carry equipment and household. Although the yak is a formidable animal, it can get frightened. When it senses danger, such as a change in the weather, it may turn around and cause all other yaks to stampede downhill. On narrow paths the outcome can be fatal.

The dynamic relation between the farmers and the yaks has inspired the creation of this work of music. As well as the traditional music of Tibet and Central Asia.

Composed in 2022
Commissioned by Bätz-Witte Concerts
Premiered by Schweelink Ensemble

Duration: 12 minutes
Instrumentation: Brass Quintet, Percussion, and Harmonium/Accordeon