Sydney Symphony Orchestra 2023

Rebecca Varidel
30th Jan 2023

In just over a week our renowned Sydney Symphony Orchestra kicks off their 2023 season at the Sydney Opera House where the Orchestra has been resident since its original opening in 1973. Yes 2023 is a wonderful year to celebrate the 50th anniversary of our beloved iconic arts venue. In this year of celebration, the Sydney Symphony Orchestra will collaborate with an astonishing 42 luminaries from across the globe in its first full season at the renewed Sydney Opera House Concert Hall with its stunning new, world-class acoustics.

For just some of the enormous highlights for 2023, Chief Conductor Simone Young leads the Sydney Symphony in eight major programs featuring large scale symphonic forces and collaborating with some of the world’s foremost artists. And 61 Australian artists and composers also feature in the Sydney Symphony’s 2023 Season.

A one-night-only unmissable event in which the Sydney Symphony will combine forces with Spinifex Gum – a choir of Indigenous female singers from Far North Queensland and the Torres Strait – to explore issues of our time through choral music, contemporary song, dance, and the full symphonic sound of the Orchestra and much more.

The Sydney Symphony will give the world-premiere of nine works, seven of which have been commissioned as part of the Sydney Symphony’s 50 Fanfares commissioning project. And the Sydney Symphony Orchestra welcomes 42 luminaries of the international and Australian stage, including eight artists in their first-ever appearances with the Sydney Symphony. Mihhail Gerts who has during the last 20 years conducted over 50 top orchestras all around the world, makes his Australian debut alongside the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. The list of Australian and international guest conductors is long, including the acclaimed Principal Guest Conductor Donald Runnicles.

Yet it is some of our long standing favourites that we hold closest to our hearts.

This February opening the 2023 Season at the Sydney Opera House, Simone Young will lead the Orchestra for Mahler’s epic First Symphony (8-11 February) – also known as the Titan. Although now considered one of the great symphonic works, the symphony received mixed reviews when it premiered in 1889, leading the composer to rewrite sections and remove an entire movement. For this special performance, Simone Young and the Sydney Symphony will open the concert with the redacted Blumine movement, giving audiences the rare opportunity to hear this little known composition of Mahler. Principal Trumpet David Elton, aclaimed for his brilliant sound and skill, will perform the Blumine trumpet solo. Mildura-born and internationally-renowned soprano Siobhann Stagg will make her Sydney Symphony debut in Debussy’s Ariettes oubliées, specially arranged by Australian composer Brett Dean.

The following week, French classical pianist Cédric Tiberghien reunites with Simone Young to perform Ravel’s Concerto for the Left Hand (16-18 February). Composed entirely for the left hand alone, audiences will experience the musicality for which Tiberghien is internationally renowned as he performs Ravel’s technically dazzling masterpiece. An exceptional musical storyteller, Simone Young will lead the Sydney Symphony in Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade – a symphonic retelling of 1001 Arabian Nights in the same concert.

On 30 June-1 July reuniting with long-time collaborator UK cellist Steven Isserlis, Simone Young and the Sydney Symphony will perform William Walton’s lyric Cello Concerto. Audiences will experience the chemistry of Young and Isserlis as they bring this rarely performed work to life in Simone Young and Seven Isserlis.

From 7-9 July, Simone Young will lead the Sydney Symphony as it performs selections of Tchaikovsky’s ballet music, including instantly recognisable music from The Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake. Audiences will be immersed in the rich soundscape of Tchaikovsky’s works in this sumptuous
symphonic presentation of his ballet music.

For Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony (2-5 August), Simone Young and the Sydney Symphony will welcome back Spanish pianist Javier Perianes for the second year of his Beethoven cycle with the Orchestra, in which he will perform all five piano concertos across multiple seasons. In 2023, Perianes will perform Beethoven’s Fourth Piano Concerto. Audiences will hear Perianes draw out the nuances of Beethoven’s work. Simone Young will further celebrate Beethoven’s genius with a performance of his sixth symphony, the idyllic Pastoral symphony.

On 11-12 August, the Sydney Symphony’s Principal Oboe Diana Doherty will take centre stage, performing Ross Edwards’ Oboe Concerto Bird Spirit Dreaming – a specially curated program celebrating the Australian composer’s 80th birthday. Under the baton of Simone Young, audiences will hear Doherty’s phenomenal playing which has seen her achieve a global career and which led Edwards to write the work for her. As part of the same program, the Sydney Symphony and Simone Young will further mark Ross Edwards’ birthday by presenting a new commission from him for the occasion.

Completing her second year as Chief Conductor of the Sydney Symphony in style, Simone Young will lead two special events in November. From 9-11 November, the Sydney Symphony Orchestra will be joined by four-time Grammy Award-winning violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter. Mutter will give the Australian premiere of a violin concerto by the legendary film composer John Williams, which was written specifically for Anne-Sophie to display her virtuosic talent. The same program will also see the Sydney Symphony perform selections from celebrated cinematic scores including Bernard Hermann’s Vertigo created for Alfred Hitchcock’s 1958 film of the same name; Nino Rota’s music for 1963’s The Leopard directed by Luchino Visconti; and more works by Williams including Hedwig’s Theme from the Harry Potter film series, and music from the 1973 classic The Long Goodbye directed by Robert Altman.

Wagner's Das Rheingold as an opera in concert will be led by Chief Conductor Simone Young 16-18 November – this is the first time this epic opera has been performed by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra in more than 20 years and the start of a multi-year production of Wagner’s epic Ring Cycle.

There is also the return of the accessible Symphony Hour series – one-hour performances offering audiences the opportunity to hear classical music’s most beautiful works with the world’s leading artists in bite-sized concerts - with all tickets just AU$49.

Photos Sandra Steh, Robert Catto and Daniel Boud (c)