The AWO Vision

Alexander Briger conducting the Australian World Orchestra, Sydney Opera House, 2016. ©Anna Kucera

The Australian World Orchestra (AWO) is the most audacious, exhilarating and limitless orchestral initiative in our country’s cultural history. Our vision is simple: to bring together Australia’s finest classical musicians from around the world, to form one of the country’s most electrifying orchestras. The concept is unique – the only professional orchestra on earth representing one nationality coming together from all over the world. A sort of “Barbarians” or “The Socceroos” of Australian music!

The AWO features Australians returning home from playing in leading world orchestras such as the Berlin and Vienna Philharmonic Orchestras, Chicago and London Symphony Orchestras, the Concertgebouw and Gewandhaus, to name but a few. Australia’s international players come together with their colleagues from Australia’s own wonderful state orchestras, and in 2019 the result was 90 incredible musicians, representing approximately 52 orchestras, all under the one roof.

In its short 8-year history, the AWO has attracted some of the most influential and charismatic conductors alive, all of whom have fallen in love with the orchestra, its unique sound and its infinite stories of both musical and personal camaraderie. Sir Simon Rattle, who came in 2015 to conduct those unforgettable Helpmann Award-winning Bruckner 8th symphony performances, said that “the orchestra is not just a national treasure but an international treasure”. The legendary conductor, Maestro Zubin Mehta, with whom we have enjoyed a close friendship, calls it “one of the top 10 orchestras on earth”. In addition, he said that “the whole world must hear this orchestra” and he backed it up by inviting us on a truly unforgettable tour of India with him in 2015, the first Australian orchestra to have visited this formidable country.

And of course in 2018 one of the greatest living conductors, Maestro Riccardo Muti, led unforgettable performances of Brahms, Tchaikovsky and Verdi in both Melbourne and Sydney and called the AWO “the most flexible orchestra I have ever conducted”. Another moment of unprecedented classical music-making in our country’s history.

One of the phrases that kept cropping up when we first started talking to the musicians about forming this remarkable orchestra was – “What a brilliant idea, shame it will never happen!” We now know it did and long may it continue!

I leave you with one more comment from the London Symphony Orchestra’s newest Music Director, Sir Simon Rattle:

“I’m not being polite when I say that the AWO is one of the great orchestras in the world. I mean it, so please look after it and tell everybody else to help you look after it.”

Alexander Briger AO, Artistic Director and Chief Conductor