The Adelaide Symphony Orchestra has announced the second half of its 2021 season (its 85th year), beginning from July. The new season features performances of some orchestral favourites and premieres of new works. The season also features as its centrepiece the ambitious new event, the Festival of Orchestra (FOFO), beginning in late November at the Adelaide Showground.

Adelaide Symphony OrchestraAdelaide Symphony Orchestra. Photo © Matt Turner.

The Festival of Orchestra presents six outdoor concerts across 10 days (November 24 to December 4), covering a broad variety of styles and genres. The festival commences with Classical Spectacular, conducted by returning Principal Guest Conductor Mark Wigglesworth, featuring a program of well loved orchestral works, including Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture (complete with cannon fire) and Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. The festival also includes a performance of Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana, with soprano Eleanor Lyons, tenor Andrew Goodwin, and baritone Samuel Dundas appearing as soloists, again conducted by Wigglesworth. 

“When the ASO is fortunate enough to work with Mark [Wigglesworth], it always ends up being a moving, memorable experience. He can draw the orchestra in with the smallest of gestures, and has the ability to build and shape the music beautifully. There is a real freshness about his interpretations!” said ASO Associate Concertmaster Cameron Hill.

The festival also delves into some non-classical repertoire. British dance music institution Ministry of Sound joins the orchestra for Ministry of Sound: Classical, a fusion of electronic dance music and the symphonic orchestra. Iconic Adelaide rock band The Angels, who have performed with ASO in the past, return for Symphony of Angels, celebrating some of Australia’s most iconic rock music with the orchestra.

Familiar Limelight face and regular writer, conductor Guy Noble joins ASO for A Night on Broadway, presenting a selection of well-known musical theatre showstoppers, featuring Amy Lehpamer as soloist.

“Broadway music just wears its heart on its sleeve. It’s like taking a ride on Aladdin’s magic carpet through a world of high emotion. Most shows have very small orchestras made up of keyboards, but to hear the big songs with the full power of the Adelaide Symphony – that’s a whole new world,” Noble said.

FOFO concludes with Blue Planet II Live in Concert, combining the BAFTA-winning documentary series by Sir David Attenborough with a live performance of Hans Zimmer’s score played by the ASO and conducted by Vanessa Scammell.

Beyond FOFO, ASO continues its Symphony Series of orchestral repertoire. Acclaimed conductor Simone Young will conduct Mozart’s Symphony No 35 and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No 6 Pathetique, as well as a new work by Australian composer Mary Finsterer. Wigglesworth again joins the orchestra to perform Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No 3, with Konstatin Shamray as soloist, as well as Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel Suite and the Australian premiere of Emily Howard’s  Magnetite.

ASO also continues its matinee series with Classical Inspirations, featuring pianist Stefan Cassomenos playing Mozart’s Piano Concerto No 14; Immortal Serenade, with trombonist Colin Pritchard performing Leopold Mozart’s Trombone Concerto; and Drama and Romance with violinist Elizabeth Layton.

Guy Noble will conduct Love and Other Catastrophes, featuring excerpts from Bizet’s Carmen, Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet, and Bernstein’s West Side Story, with soprano soloist Jessica Dean. The Meditation Series also continues with Light and Shade, featuring works by Ravel, Sibelius, and Pärt.

For families, ASO will present Star Wars: Return of the Jedi in Concert at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre, playing some of John Williams’ most iconic film music live and in real time alongside the film. Milli, Jack and the Dancing Cat adapts Stephen Michael King’s children’s story with new music by Australian composer Rachel Bruerville conducted by Luke Dollman.

ASO’s concerted efforts to remedy the gender imbalance in classical music were featured in Limelight’s June issue, and their efforts can be seen in this new season, with works by female composers in every Symphony Series concert, multiple premieres of new works by Australian female composers, as well as their She Speaks mini festival, and the Miriam Hyde Circle initiative.

Part 2 of the ASO’s 2021 season continues the shift back to large-scale performances in post-lockdown Adelaide, programming a broad series of concerts and working towards accessibility.

More information about Part 2 of ASO’s 2021 can be found here

Sign up to the Limelight newsletter