Sydney Symphony Orchestra

Orchestra

Biography

Vladimir Ashkenazy, Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor
PATRON: Her Excellency Professor Marie Bashir AC CVO

Founded in 1932 by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, the Sydney Symphony has evolved into one of the world’s finest orchestras as Sydney has become one of the world’s great cities. The orchestra is resident at the iconic Sydney Opera House as well as performing throughout Sydney and in regional New South Wales.

The Sydney Symphony’s first Chief Conductor was Sir Eugene Goossens, appointed in 1947; he was followed by Nicolai Malko, Dean Dixon, Moshe Atzmon, Willem van Otterloo, Louis Frémaux, Sir Charles Mackerras, Zdeněk Mácal, Stuart Challender, Edo de Waart and Gianluigi Gelmetti. Vladimir Ashkenazy has been the orchestra’s principal conductor since 2009.
The orchestra’s history also boasts collaborations with legendary figures such as George Szell, Sir Thomas Beecham, Otto Klemperer and Igor Stravinsky.
In 1965 the Sydney Symphony made its first overseas tour, becoming the first Australian orchestra to perform in the United Kingdom or in Asia. Since then, tours to Europe, the United States and Asia have earned the orchestra worldwide recognition for artistic excellence.
The 1965 tour began with concerts in Manila, Tokyo and Hong Kong before taking the orchestra to London, where it appeared in the Commonwealth Arts Festival. The next tour to Europe, in 1974, was led by Chief Conductor Willem van Otterloo, and the conducting of tours by the orchestra’s titled conductor became a pattern. In 1988, the year of the Bicentennial Celebrations in Australia, the orchestra visited the United States under the direction of Stuart Challender. Edo de Waart led tours to Japan and Taiwan in 1996 and the United States in 1998. Gianluigi Gelmetti conducted tours of Tokyo and Osaka (2006) as part of Asia Orchestra Week and also Italy (2008). Vladimir Ashkenazy has led the orchestra on tours of China and Malaysia (2009) and several major European summer festivals (2010), and will conduct the 2011 Japan and Korea tour: the orchestra’s fourth visit to Japan and its first to Korea. Under Ashkenazy’s leadership, international touring has become a fixture in the orchestra’s annual concert season.
In addition to a busy schedule of concerts, the Sydney Symphony devotes time and resources to an award-winning education and artist development program. This program is central to the orchestra’s commitment to the future of live symphonic music, nurturing audiences and engaging the participation of young people.
The Sydney Symphony promotes the work of Australian composers through performances, recordings and its commissioning program. Recent premieres have included major works by Ross Edwards, Liza Lim, Lee Bracegirdle, Gordon Kerry and Georges Lentz, and the orchestra’s recording of music by Brett Dean was released on both the BIS and Sydney Symphony Live labels.
Other releases on the Sydney Symphony Live label, established in 2006, include performances with Alexander Lazarev, Gianluigi Gelmetti, Sir Charles Mackerras and Vladimir Ashkenazy, and the orchestra is currently recording the complete Mahler symphonies under Ashkenazy. The Sydney Symphony has also released recordings with Ashkenazy of Rachmaninoff and Elgar orchestral works on the Exton/Triton labels, and numerous recordings on the ABC Classics label.

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