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Darwin Symphony Orchestra

Comprising 65 volunteer musicians and a small professional core, the Darwin Symphony Orchestra (DSO) is an orchestra of and for the community.

By Anna Dowd

An accessible and essential community resource, the DSO has performed in some of the most remote places imaginable – including being the first orchestra to perform at Uluru – with a diversity in programming that crosses cultural boundaries. The 2017 season stays true to form with an extraordinary variety of music for your listening pleasure. 

Kicking off the Dry is the DSO’s annual Opera Gala, featuring four of the world’s best operatic voices under the stars at the Darwin Waterfront. If you’ve never seen live opera, this gold coin event is the perfect chance to stretch out on your picnic blanket and experience what centuries of punters have fallen in love with. 

Fun fact: one of those opera fans was Freddie Mercury from supergroup Queen. All the more reason to get excited about the DSO’s tribute to this superb ensemble, according to DSO Chief Conductor and Artistic Director Matthew Wood. 

“It was very clever stuff these guys were producing, with interesting and sophisticated harmonies and musical structures. This is what makes them uniquely Queen, and what gives the orchestral charts some really juicy material,” said Wood.

With the orchestra at the centre of the show, and with guest musicians sharing the stage, this is set to be one musically rich ‘rochestral’ journey. Following these outdoor musical extravaganzas, head inside for the 2017 MasterSeries – three concerts with everything from a controversial symphony by Russia’s Dmitri Shostakovich to music by the composer of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’s film score, Tan Dun and the work of John Williams, one of the most successful film composers of all time.

"Have you ever watched Spielberg’s Jaws with the sound turned down?” asks Wood. “It looks rather silly – just long periods of underwater shots with the occasional dark shadow. You don’t actually see the shark for a very long time, in fact you have to wait about 80 minutes – but turn the sound up and the suspense is immense! The famous two note 'dar-dum' represents the shark and therefore the music is the shark. It is the brilliant orchestral scoring by John Williams that scares the heck out of you, and that is why you remember the music so well."

For inspiration closer to home, the DSO explores the work of celebrated Australian composer Peter Sculthorpe in 'Kakadu', a composition inspired by the landscape and seasons of our iconic National Park. Sculthorpe’s affinity with the Territory was enduring and his music is sure to conjure up unique visions of our sensational backyard.

To complement this diverse season, the popular DSO Kids’ Classics series is back, giving youngsters the chance to be wowed by the sounds of the symphony up close in an intimate, small ensemble format. Wood himself was inspired as a kid when the touring Adelaide Symphony Orchestra held a children’s concert in his city.

“I still remember what they played and being completely blown away by the sounds they were making. It was a transformative experience, and part of the reason why I believe so strongly in making music accessible to our younger audiences.” 

Such is the power of music and the promise of another sparkling season from your orchestra, the Darwin Symphony Orchestra.

See the event listing.


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