The Perth-based orchestra is packing Wagner, Mahler and Sculthorpe for its first international tour in ten years.

The Western Australian Symphony Orchestra is about to embark on its first international tour in ten years, performing concerts in China and the United Arab Emirates. The Perth-based orchestra will become the first Australian major performing arts company to tour to the United Arab Emirates and the first to represent Australia at the Beijing Music Festival.

The orchestra will tour in three stages, beginning with a concert in the Emirates Palace Concert Hall in Abu Dhabi conducted by Sir Richard Amstrong. Heldentenor Simon O’Neill will join the ensemble for the all-Wagner programme, which features selections from Tannhäuser, Die Walküre, Lohengrin, Tristan und Isolde, Parsifal and Die Meistersinger.

“I look forward to welcoming the West Australian Symphony Orchestra (WASO) to Abu Dhabi”, said Arthur Spyrou, the Australian Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates. “The all-Wagner performance by WASO will showcase a great Australian orchestra and make a world class contribution to the UAE cultural landscape. As the signature event which will open the 2016/17 Abu Dhabi Classics Season the WASO visit will highlight Australia’s reputation as a dynamic, artistic nation and a lover of the classics.”

WASO will then head to China for school performances in Beijing as well as a concert in the Forbidden City as part of the Beijing Music Festival featuring Mendelssohn’s overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Mahler’s Fifth Symphony – this time with the orchestra’s Israeli Principal Conductor Asher Fisch back at the helm. French pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet will join WASO to perform Saint-Saëns’ Fifth Piano Concerto, the Egyptian. Thibaudet will continue on with the orchestra to Shanghai, with the Mendelssohn swapped out for Peter Skulthorpe’s Kakadu.

“WASO is at the forefront of Australian Orchestras,” said WASO Chairman Janet Holmes à Court AC, “and this has enabled us to forge exciting new relationships in China and the United Arab Emirates that have broad implications for our nations. These alliances are significant, and we are proud they have been established and nurtured through an artistic connection.”

The 107-strong tour party will include Fisch, Armstrong, Thibaudet and O’Neill, as well as 89 WASO musicians and the tour has been made possible in part thanks to $250,000 worth of funding from the Western Australian Government.

Before hitting the road, WASO, Thibaudet and Fisch will perform the China programmes for home audiences at the Perth Concert Hall. “I’m thrilled to be showcasing WASO on the international stage,” said Fisch. “We have worked intensively together for almost three years, and this transformative journey is now yielding wonderful results of which I am very proud.”

Asher Fisch and the Western Australian Symphony Orchestra will present Tour de Force at the Perth Concert Hall September 29 to October 1