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 unite Australia’s finest classical musicians from around the world, to form one of the country’s most electrifying orchestras. The concept is unique. We are the world’s only professional orchestra that represents one nationality; a sort of “Socceroos” of Australian classical music!

The AWO features Australian musicians from leading national and international orchestras and ensembles such as the Berlin, LA and Vienna Philharmonic Orchestras, Chicago and London Symphony Orchestras, the Concertgebouw and Gewandhaus, to name but a few.

Since we first performed in 2011, we have attracted some of the world’s most influential and charismatic conductors. All have fallen in love with the AWO, particularly with our unique sound and our infinite musical talent and personal camaraderie.

Sir Simon Rattle, who conducted the AWO in 2015 in the unforgettable Helpmann Award-winning Bruckner 8th symphony performances said, “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 to help you look after it”.

The legendary Maestro Zubin Mehta first conducted the AWO in 2013 when we performed Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring and Mahler’s 1st Symphony. These unforgettable concerts now sit alongside some of the greatest in Australian classical music history and led Mo. Mehta to proclaim the AWO to be, “one of the top 10 orchestras on earth”. Not long after Mo. Mehta conducted the AWO in 2013, he graciously invited us on an unforgettable, thrilling, three-city tour of India with him in 2015.  In 2022, Mo. Mehta also led our debut performances at both the Edinburgh International Festival and the BBC Proms, before joining us in Melbourne and Sydney for performances of Strauss’s stunning tone poems – Don Juan, Till Eulenspiegel and Ein Heldenleben.  The AWO’s performances in Australia resulted in us winning the 2022 Limelight Artist of the Year (People’s Choice) award.

In 2018, one of the greatest living conductors, Maestro Riccardo Muti, led the AWO in unforgettable performances of Brahms, Tchaikovsky and Verdi in both Melbourne and Sydney. He challenged us, taking the orchestra in a different direction at each concert. The AWO delivered and the result was an exhilarating performance each night. At the end of the tour, Mo. Muti remarked that the AWO was, “the most flexible orchestra I have ever conducted”. This was a tremendous acknowledgement of our uniqueness and artistic excellence. 

Commissioning new works and performing pieces by contemporary Australian composers is imperative for the future of orchestral music. Our commissions have included Brett Dean’s orchestration of Debussy’s divine song cycle “Ariettes oubliées” first performed in 2015 by guest mezzo-soprano Magdalena Kožená. For our 5th birthday in 2016 we commissioned Australian composer Elena Kats-Chernin AO to compose a concerto for eight double basses, “The Witching Hour”, the first in the history of music! For our 10th Birthday in 2021 we commissioned Australian composer Paul Dean to compose his 1st Symphony “Black Summer”, for which he was awarded the 2022 Paul Lowin Orchestral Prize.

I leave you with one final comment from 2022’s esteemed conductor, a comment that I think beautifully encapsulates the AWO. When responding to a question about the orchestra, Mo. Mehta exclaimed, “…these are the greatest musicians in the world. They just happen to be Australian!”

It is declarations like these that make me extremely proud of what we have achieved as an orchestra, both here and internationally. It enables us to continue to perform and engage with audiences world-wide, enhancing Australia’s reputation for cultural and artistic excellence.

Alexander Briger AO, Co-Founder,
Artistic Director and Chief Conductor