Who is Australia’s best orchestra?

Sydney first and Tassie last in first ever blind-listening test of Australia’s orchestras.

Classical music and arts magazine Limelight has rated the country’s six state symphony orchestras in a comprehensive “blind” listening test – the first of its kind to be undertaken in this country. “Limelight’s ranking, free of hometown loyalty and preconception, is the most accurate appraisal to date of how well our six state orchestras do their job of making music,” said Limelight’s editor Francis Merson.

A panel of 15 expert critics and musicians from around the country took part in the ranking. “I hope the results stand as a testament to the excellence not only of those at the top, but to all the orchestras involved,” said Merson. “Many judges remarked on the difficulty of finding points of difference between such superb ensembles… Still, there was one very clear winner, who deserves special plaudits for a stunning year of live performance.”

The Results

The Sydney Symphony took First Place, leading the pack by the most significant margin in the entire survey.

The Adelaide Symphony Orchestra was runner-up, followed by the Queensland Symphony Orchestra in Third Place.

Perhaps the biggest upset of the survey was the poor showing of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, who garnered Fourth Place and were consistently placed in the bottom half of the ranking by the panel’s judges.

Bringing up the rear were the West Australian Symphony Orchestra and, trailing by a large gap, the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra.

How the blind-test worked
A panel of 15 expert critics and professional musicians from around the country – many of whom wished to remain anonymous – was sent ABC recordings of live concerts by the six orchestras from throughout 2012. The judges were left blind as to which orchestra was which (each one received a label from A to F) in order to obviate any prejudice or hometown loyalty. All attempts were made to match repertoire between the orchestras, and to include a variety of styles, conductors and soloists in order to capture the range of each ensemble’s expressive power. Each judge was asked to review all the works performed by each orchestra and to provide an overall ranking of the orchestras from one to six.

The full results, including the panel’s detailed and intimate comments on each orchestra, will be published in the April issue of Limelight and is, as usual, available from our online store with free postage!

 

ALSO IN THE MAGAZINE

Totally Terfel

We caught up with the world's most famous bass-baritone in Milan ahead of his Australian tour. The Welsh songman talks Verdi (and Lady Gaga!) in an exclusive interview.

Sayonara Tokyo String Quartet

After 40 years together, the legendary Tokyo String Quartet is retiring with one last farewell tour to Australia. The group talks intimately about the separation pains and cutting the strings.

Thomas Adès: Composing the Impossible

The intimidating British composer, conductor and virtuoso pianist grants Limelight a rare interview. Thomas Adès writes fiendishly difficult music with prodigious ease; we try to figure out what makes him tick. 

Musical Journey: An Opera Revolution in Cape Town

Why hundreds of thousands of South African youths are teaching themselves to sing Mozart and Verdi when they don't have food to eat: we take a confronting yet rewarding tour through the townships of South Africa.

Verdi: A Life in Four Operas

Celebrating the bicentenary of his birth, Verdi's rags-to-riches story is told through four of his seminal operas, among the most beloved in the repertoire today. Renée Fleming and Bryn Terfel share their experiences singing the great Verdian roles.

Reviews

A whopping 24 pages of classical CD, DVD, book and live concert reviews, including Lisa Batiashvili's breathtaking Brahms, Janine Jansen's fiery new recording of Prokofiev's works for violin; Steven Osborne's picture-perfect Pictures at an Exhibition and Visions Fugitives; The Ebène String Quartet's magnificent Mendelssohn, Jonas Kaufmann's pitch-perfect Wagner recital and more.

The Limelight Classical Chart

Exclusive to Limelight, this chart ranks the top 20 best-selling classical CDs and DVDs according to monthly sales figures drawn from Australia's leading classical specialist stores. Unlike other charts, Limelight's specially assembled list admits only pure classical releases – it's not diluted with crossover.

ABC Highlights

The only magazine to feature highlights and recommendations for ABC Classic FM, Radio National and ABC TV.

Copyright © Limelight Magazine. All rights reserved

What are your thoughts on this article? Have your say and leave your comments below.
NOTE: You must be a registered member of Limelight to post a comment.
Click here to login | Click here to register
Please read our guidelines on commenting. Offending posts will be removed and your access may be suspended. Abusive or obscene language will not be tolerated. The comments below do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of Limelight or its employees.
Who is Australia’s best orchestra?
Current Issue
May 2014 issue on sale now!
What's On
 
Close Get the May 2014 issue of Limelight mailed to you for $8.50, including postage.

Buy now
Subscribe
Digital Version