It’s Friday morning and the West Australian Symphony Orchestra are in rehearsal. Principal Conductor Asher Fisch arrives at the podium and picks up his baton, which has been accessorised with a ping pong ball. He holds it up for the orchestra to see and joins in the general laughter.

It is four years into the maestro’s contract with the orchestra and the relationship has produced quite incredible results. Fisch has an obvious camaraderie with the musicians, but there’s also a marked improvement in the string blend, a more cohesive warmth from the winds and brass, and profound detail in the musical interpretation. In a recent Limelight review, Fisch was credited with transforming the orchestra into the best interpreter of German Romantic repertoire this side of Germany. How has he done it?

Asher Fisch, West Australian Symphony Orchestra West Australian Symphony Orchestra Principal Conductor Asher Fisch. Photo © Christophe Canato

I sat in on a rehearsal last April to attempt to discover the magical formula. The programme included Mozart, Stravinsky and Sibelius, a welcome relief for those who might have found Fisch’s focus on Beethoven, Brahms and Wagner a little conservative. It was the final...

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