Did you know the Sydney Symphony Orchestra’s Principal Oboe Diana Doherty is also a painter? Or have you ever wanted to step into Chief Conductor David Robertson’s shoes? To celebrate the holiday season, the SSO  has started the bidding on 34 unique experiences that will allow people to get up close and personal with the orchestra’s musicians. The auction is raising funds for the SSO’s Learning and Engagement programme, which reaches more than 35,000 young people each year.

Sydney Symphony OrchestraSydney Symphony Orchestra Principal Oboe Diana Doherty.

The items going under the hammer include a chance for two people to join the SSO on their 2018 European tour, visiting 12 cities and venues (including the Philharmonie concert halls in Berlin, Paris, and Luxemburg, among others), flying business class between Sydney and Europe. While this is the most expensive listing, with bidding starting at $30,000, there are a range of other experiences on offer, including a regional tour experience (which starts at $6000) and opportunities to engage with the musicians on a more personal level.

Artistic on the oboe, so too she is with her paintbrush – bidding for a portrait by Principal Oboe Diana Doherty, who will paint you (or a family member or pet) in acrylics, starts at $2,000 while an evening with the orchestra’s new CEO Emma Dunch kicks off at $500.For those who want to try their hand on the podium, Chief Conductor and Artistic Director David Robertson is offering a crash course in conducting the SSO – and the winner will get to keep a signed baton as a souvenir.For budding musicians, two-hour lessons with SSO musicians – a line-up including Concertmaster Andrew Haveron, oboist Shefali Pryor, cellist Edward King, trombonist Ronald Prussing and more ­– are on the table, with bidding starting at $250. The lessons have proved the most popular so far, with all attracting bids.

Other experiences on offer include champagne backstage with Vladimir Ashkenazy, beer-tasting with the brass section, a private performance and the chance to sit in on SSO rehearsals.


The Sydney Symphony Orchestra Holiday Auction closes at 10pm November 30.

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