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2020 Season Announcement

Janine HanrahanJust a quick note to season subscribers that the 2020 concert season announcement will be announced on this website on

Monday, 3rd. February, 2020.

You might have noticed too, that we have given the ADO website a bit of a late-Spring clean and freshen-up. We hope that this makes looking around the webite more enjoyable and easier to navigate around, whether viewing it on your mobile or desktop computer.

Our 2020 concert season will be one of the most exciting seasons so far. It will also coincide with the release of the ADO’s first commercial recording – 16 STORIES – an album of new American musical theatre songs – and a record of which we are incredibly proud. Kevin Purcell, Mark Buys and mix-mastering engineer, Brian Cachia, are currently editing the final vocal session recordings prior to the release of the album on Broadway Records™ in the first half of 2020.

Before we get started on our exciting 2020 season, you can still view some of our past concerts as Pay-Per-View (see under ‘Concert Tickets’) including the marvellous 2016 performance [abridged] of Puccini’s incendiary operatic masterpiece, TOSCA, starring Lee Abrahmsen, for free!

The Pay-Per-View of our inaugural Sir Arnold Bax Music Festival held in late August-early September this year is coming shortly too.

More news over the Summer.

Janine Hanrahan
Managing Director

On Not “Blowing Up the Orchestra”

Esa-Pekka Salonen

Esa-Pekka Salonen

In an article by Anthony Tommasini in the March 7 edition of the New York Times, the very fine Finnish conductor, Esa-Pekka Salonen; music director designate of the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, muses on the future of the orchestra in the 21st-Century.

The article itself is not terribly well-written, suffering from the same lack of focus in logically expounding the concepts and ideas that the maestro makes attempts to articulate. Albeit the conceptual foundations for Salonen’s ideas; being largely self-intuitive and arguably unproven outside his own efforts with the Philharmonia Orchestra – successful and insightful as they have been, warrant attention.

The most important virtue of the article is the clear intent in which Salonen is engaged with the myriad issues besetting the future of symphony orchestras around the world.  It’s called ‘leading from the front’ and it is to be thoroughly admired.

I don’t agree with Esa-Pekka on every point.  I certainly do not see that the future of orchestral programming being so rigidly tied to concerts in which masterworks of the repertoire  are “present[ed] alongside comparably ambitious modern and contemporary works.”  This is an approach that has yielded fairly poor results over many years for multifaceted reasons.

I do agree with him unreservedly, nonetheless, that an orchestral concert becomes an event of “human energy, human expression — and people react strongly to that.”

It is the elemental proposition of maximising the importance of the level of human expression possible that, at least in my view, is the key.

Orchestras do remarkable things; so remarkable in fact, that we often lose sight that what orchestral players do is viscerally thrilling to audiences.  But we don’t advertise that to the general public.  As Salonen rightly remarks, “The message…is often conveyed — “come and hear an immortal masterpiece performed by Maestro So-and-So and a great symphony orchestra” — is actually off-putting. Lots of concert halls look like shrines or temples, like a Parthenon,” he added. “You climb up to make yourself worthy” and “walk out a better person.”

It will come as no surprise to learn for those of you who peruse my personal blog that I hold deep and abiding concerns about marketing departments of many symphonic organisations who commonly seem bereft of ideas of how to promote classical music to new audiences.  As I pointed out in a recent post, it is actually proven that audiences generally don’t care who is conducting, but what music is being performed!

It is through the music itself that connections are made to the human experience.

The challenge is how to articulate the meaningfulness of the experience to an audience through the mechanisms that contemporary audiences evaluate and experience in their daily lives.

When we solve that issue – and something we spend a lot of time at the ADO thinking about and developing – then we’ll be on a path that can lead to only better outcomes.

Kevin Purcell

The Year Ahead

Kevin_PurcellThis coming year will be a watershed for the ADO in many ways.  There are a number of initiatives the management have been working on, some which have taken several years of pre-development behind the scenes, and one new one which won’t be up and running until 2019.  More information about these activities, as I am reliably informed, will be released soon.

Our concerts this coming season send us on a journey of discovery of works that remain under-represented in the concert hall.  Sibelius’s Symphony No.3 in C major is really one of the forgotten children of the Finnish master’s symphonic output.  I’ve never quite understood why this is so, as it is truly a wonderful work.  The second symphony from the Nordic Archipelago that we are going to tackle is Kurt Atterberg’s Symphony No.3 (‘West Coast Pictures’).  How and why this symphony remains almost univerally unknown is indeed baffling. Continue Reading →

Orchestra Musicians Never Fail To Amaze Me

Kevin_PurcellI had the great pleasure last weekend of working with an essentially ‘scratch’ orchestra comprised predominantly of musicians teaching instrumental music in Schools in Melbourne and regional areas; including some musicians from the ADO roster, all of whom gave so generously of their time.

The ADO, through Managing Director, Janine Hanrahan, and Artistic Administrator, Briony Buys, was asked to curate this concert for the inaugural Independent Schools Victoria (ISV) Arts Learning Festival. I was delighted to return to Melbourne to work with the orchestra on a program of music specifically composed for Children.

We really need to celebrate the capacity of orchestra musicians who live in Australia: their willingness to tackle difficult music – with far too little rehearsal time; an undaunted enthusiasm for the task of finding their musical way through a barrage of notes, rhythms, dynamics and endlessly shifting tempi and, ultimately, their conviction that they can “pull it off” when the moment really counts – the concert!

We underestimate and under-appreciate orchestra musicians generally.  I believe this is true in most places in the world with very few exceptions. What is asked of them – in terms of the minutely exacting technical and artistic expectations  – is a continuing feat of human dexterity and skill-level that belies any general understanding of what they individually and collectively accomplish in the process of making music. Continue Reading →