Tag Archives | Australian Discovery Orchestra

2019 Event 4: Keys of Life (Special Event)

“Sometimes it is the people no one can imagine anything of who do the things no one can imagine”

Alan Turing (1912-1954)

Featured on the Australian edition of 60 Minutes in 2016, Daphne Prioetto is a remarkable woman teaching the piano to children with autism in Melbourne, Australia. Focusing on the development of motor skills and aural acuity, she has achieved truly astounding outcomes with the children she has taught, and far beyond the expectations of what was previously assumed to be possible for children with this disability.

Founded on establishing a rapport not only with the child, but with the family as well as means to long-term musical development and ongoing success, Daphne’s work is defined by realising the potential in all children to experience and explore music-making irrespective of the challenges they may face in day-to-day living. Watching Daphne’s students perform in concert is a testament to the finest possibilities of the human spirit.

Whatever you have planned on this day, cancel it, and experience an event to make your heart soar.

Marianne_RothschildIn addition to Daphne’s Keys of Life students, ADO Principal Violin, Marianne Rothschild, performs Vaughan Williams’ hauntingly beautiful solo in The Lark Ascending preceded by C. Armstrong Gibbs’ enchanting waltz, Dusk. ADO Principal Conductor, Kevin Purcell directs.


2019 Event 3: The Sir Arnold Bax Music Festival

“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.”

W. B. Yeats (1865-1939)

The inaugural Sir Arnold Bax Music Festival, created by ADO Principal Conductor, Kevin Purcell, reflects the ongoing renaissance of the music of Arnold Bax (1883-1953) that began with the Lyrita record label recordings in the early 1970s of which Symphonies Nos. 1 & 2 were conducted by Maestro Purcell’s British conducting teacher, Myer Fredman. Over a number of years the late British maestro passed on his intimate knowledge of Bax’s orchestral output to his protégé. Appropriately, Purcell has now created a biennial festival to explore every aspect of this titan of 20th-Century British music.

This is the first festival in the world devoted to the music of one of Britain’s most fascinating and original composers who was appointed Master of the King’s Music during George VI’s reign in 1942.

The inaugural Festival (Aug.31 – Sept. 1) will feature two orchestral concerts.  The first of these on Saturday evening will be performed by our guest artists, Pro-Musica Orchestra, conducted by John Ferguson with Elgar’s marvellous, but rarely heard, King Arthur Suite as well as Bax’s charming Mediterranean.

On Sunday afternoon, the ADO will present two seminal Bax works works composed in 1917 – the thrilling tone-poem, Tintagel, and the Australian premiere of the ballet suite From Dusk ‘Til Dawn. The concert also includes a rare performance of the Lament (For Catherine, aged 9 “Lusitania” 1915) by Frank Bridge – another British composer whose music is far too-little represented on the concert stage.

A delightful chamber music concert of works by Bax, Bridge and Eugene Goosens on the Saturday afternoon fills out the Festival along with a newly commissioned, short-documentary, film examining the reasons for the unjustified and inexplicable neglect of Bax’s orchestral works in orchestral concert programming to the present-day.

Don’t miss this incredibly exciting new biennial classical music festival in Melbourne by Australia’s most innovative orchestra.


2019 Event 2: ADO Musicians Perform 20th-Century Chamber Music

“A conversation between friends.”

Catherine Drinker Bowen (1897-1973)

MartinuBohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)


The Sextet for Piano and Winds (1929) whisks us away to Paris in December. The liberating influence of Foxtrot, Tango, Charleston and jazz, combined with the high standards of French woodwind playing, inspired Martinů to compose one of his most original compositions. By removing the horn from the woodwind quintet, and adding piano and a second bassoon, Martinů created a euphonious and versatile ensemble.

FrancaixJean Françaix (1912-1997)

L’Heure du Berger

Written in 1947, just after the Second World War, the work looks back to the Twenties, a generation earlier. Owing much to the influence of Poulenc, the piece radiates a simplicity characteristic of Francaix’s works.  Instilled with undisguised caricature by the composer —’Berger’ being the name of a popular aniseed aperitif. this “Heure du Berger” takes place at Maxim’s during the Belle Époque.

EmmanuelMaurice Emmanuel (1862-1938)

Sonata for Clarinet, Flute and Piano

The Sonata for Flute Clarinet and Piano, Op. 11, was written in 1907 and is generally regarded as Emmanuel’s chamber music masterpiece as well as being the best known and most often played.

BerioLuciano Berio (1925-2003)

Opus Number Zoo

Berio went to Tanglewood in the United States in 1950 to take lessons from Luigi Dallapiccola.  There he met the stage director and author of children’s books, Rhoda Levine, who gave him four poems to set to music. Berio wrote “Opus Number Zoo – a children’s play” – but what assumes the guise of child-like innocence, is really a piece for adults. The little chick which is dancing with the fox will, in all probability, end up being eaten; the horse complains about the humans who have ruined the earth, and the mouse repines over transience. Berio accompanies the spoken roles with music which has the impression of being naive and cheerful and, yet, suggests something entirely less congenial.


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

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 →