The Sydney Opera House has received a $1 million gift from arts patron Peter Weiss, which will see the Concert Hall gain two completely new rehearsal rooms and allow upgrades to existing rehearsal facilities. It is the most significant cash donation the Opera House has ever received and helps fulfil a critical facet of the venue’s $202 million upgrade.

Louise Herron and Peter Weiss. Photo © Hugh Hamilton

Weiss’ gift will be of particular benefit to the Opera House’s visiting artists and resident companies, particularly the Australian Chamber Orchestra and Sydney Symphony Orchestra, as well as the organisations it partners with, such as Sydney Philharmonia Choirs and the Opera Australia Orchestra. It is expected that the substantial donation will allow upgrades to up to three existing rehearsal spaces.

Alongside the Opera House, Weiss is a notable supporter of the ACO and SSO. In 2016, he donated a 1729 Guarneri Cello valued at $1,800,000 to the ACO, made available on permanent loan to Principal Cello Timo-Veikko Valve. Weiss was also the lead donor on the purchase of a tapestry by Le Corbusier for the Opera House in 2015, which now hangs in the Western Foyer. He also bought the former home of the late composer Peter Sculthorpe in 2015, intended to be used as a venue for masterclasses and intimate performances as well as a rehearsal space for students. Weiss’ significant philanthropic work saw him receive an Order of Australia in 2013 for distinguished services to the arts, particularly in orchestral music.

Speaking to the Opera House’s CEO Louise Herron about the $1 million gift, Weiss said, “Of what I have, my greatest joy is always to give it away… I hope others follow suit, to just have in your heart to give…”

“I’ve never sought acknowledgement, it’s just part of being a citizen in this country.”