The Australian World Orchestra has announced a second tour to India, following the success of its 2015 tour under the baton of acclaimed maestro Zubin Mehta. This September, the AWO –comprising 52 Australian musicians from orchestras around the world – will perform a program of Mozart, Bizet and Beethoven in three cities as part of Australia Fest – a festival of Australian culture and creativity taking place across India – under the baton of AWO Artistic Director and Chief Conductor Alexander Briger. The tour announcement follows the orchestra’s highly successful concerts in Australia with Italian maestro Riccardo Muti.

Australian World Orchestra, India Tour, Alexander BrigerAlexander Briger and the Australian World Orchestra. Photo © Anna Kucera

“It’s our third tour already in only our seventh year of existence and the orchestra really wants to do more, especially the musicians,” Briger told Limelight. “They are very keen to showcase the standard of this orchestra to the world, as are the conductors we’ve had. That’s why Zubin Mehta brought us here in 2015 and it’s public knowledge that Riccardo Muti said he wants to take the orchestra to Italy.”

The AWO will return to Chennai and Mumbai on the upcoming India tour, but will also make history with the first performance in Kerala by a western symphony orchestra, in the Liwa ballroom of the new Lulu Bolgatty International Convention Centre in Cochin.

Violinist Daniel Dodds will join the AWO as soloist in Saint-Saëns’ Rondo Capriccioso for the tour, with mezzo-soprano Caroline Meng joining the orchestra in Cochin and Mumbai for highlights form Carmen. Bookending the concerts will be the Overture to Mozart’s Don Giovanni and Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony.

“The AWO is mostly known for the big romantic repertoire, but it’s also one of the best ‘Beethoven’ orchestras I know,” Briger added.

Caroline MengMezzo-soprano Caroline Meng © Florre-Anne Roth

The orchestra will continue its association with the Mehli Mehta Music Foundation, which began with the AWO’s 2015 tour, delivering workshops and outreach music education programs in Mumbai, culminating in a performance by students and the AWO at Mumbai’s Tata Hall, NCPA. The AWO education team will also travel to Tiruvalla in Kerala to conduct workshops and performances with children and their teachers at the Centre for Autism India.

“The AWO has become as much about education as it has for excellence of performance,” said Briger. We’re very proud of that.”

The AWO Academy program will see violinist Sagar Nagaraj – a Sydney Youth Orchestra alum who currently plays with the Willoughby Symphony Orchestra – join the AWO, working side by side with its musicians on the tour.

“The relationship between our two countries is developing greatly economically and there’s no doubt the AWO is the cultural link between us,” said Briger. “So our musicians are definitely helping Australia from the economic side and we should be proud about that. That is rare. So we intend to return to other cities in India. The people there are very excited to discover western classical music. To think – we will be giving the first ever western classical concert in Cochin! These people have never heard Beethoven or Mozart! We will be the first. So they are very honoured to have us and we are very honoured to be going there.”