08 Sep 2017

The SSO sets off on a two-city tour of China

Chinese audiences will be transported to the Tasmanian wilderness when we perform Nigel Westlake’s Oboe Concerto.

Our Principal Oboe Diana Doherty will sound a song for Bathurst Harbour, a World Heritage area on Tasmania's southwest coast, when she performs Spirit of the Wild at Beijing's National Centre for the Performing Arts next Friday night.

Australian composer Nigel Westlake wrote the work especially for her and was "delighted and honoured" when the SSO approached him about performing the Chinese premiere.

"Diana is one of the stars of the orchestra and it's great that she has this vehicle to present her talents to the world," Westlake says. "Spirit of the Wild is an ode to the natural environment and was inspired by a place of great beauty. These are the sorts of places we need to be protecting because they have a special meaning and serve as an inspiration to not only artists, but everyone."

Beijing is the second leg of our 2017 China tour with Chief Conductor David Robertson. Ninety-seven musicians, 5.5 tonnes worth of instruments and our administrative team will fly to the mainland for one week on Monday.

Japanese-born American violinist Midori Goto will join us as soloist in Shanghai and Beijing, culminating in a gala performance at Beijing's National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA) on 16 September to celebrate the 45th anniversary Australia China diplomatic relations. Goto will perform Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto in D in a program including works by Ligeti and Prokofiev.

Spirit of the Wild, which the orchestra has been rehearsing this week, will feature in a chamber music program on Friday night in Beijing along with pieces by American John Adams (Gnarly Buttons) and Chinese composer Zhou Juan (Ming and Say "Bye").

The tour will also see us conduct outreach activities with students at the Shanghai Orchestra Academy.  In a day-long workshop, we will work with the talented students at the Academy, selecting three students by audition to travel to Sydney later this year to undertake a two-week performance residency with the orchestra. This outreach follows two successful performance residencies in 2015 and 2016 in which select Academy students travelled to Sydney to work with us at the Sydney Opera House.

The SSO is grateful for the support of its sponsors Tianda, China Eastern, Wanda Group, Kilikanoon and the Australian Government for making this tour possible.

Video: Diana Doherty and the SSO rehearsing Spirit of the Wild at the Sydney Opera House this week. Credit: Daniela Testa.