West Australian Symphony Orchestra

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West Australian Symphony Orchestra (WASO)
Waso logo.png
West Australian Symphony Orchestra logo
Founded 1921
Location Perth
Concert hall Perth Concert Hall
Principal conductor Asher Fisch
Website www.waso.com.au

The West Australian Symphony Orchestra (WASO) is an Australian symphony orchestra based in Perth, Western Australia. Its principal concert venue is the Perth Concert Hall. WASO also gives concerts in Mandurah at the Mandurah Performing Arts Centre. As of March 2012, WASO has a roster of 79 full-time musicians. The orchestra has an affiliated WASO Chorus. WASO currently presents over 170 performances per annum throughout the state.


In the winter of 1921, weekly concerts by a Perth Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Harold Betteridge and led by Lionel Hart, were advertised in the local newspaper, but the life of this group was brief. In 1928, many professional musicians who had supported the silent movies found themselves out of work, and under the direction of Harold Newton, formed the Perth Symphony Orchestra. The first performance by this group of professional players was given in the Queens Hall of the Regent Theatre. By 1930, the orchestra not only gave concerts in the Queens Hall but also presented ten subscription concerts in the Town Hall. Many of these concerts were broadcast over the radio station 6WF.

In 1932, the Australian Broadcasting Commission was formed, and part of its charter was to establish broadcast orchestras in each state. In Western Australia, it formed the Western Studio Orchestra of fifteen players, conducted by Nelson Burton. The Perth Symphony Orchestra, conducted by George Reid, was giving regular concerts in His Majesty's Theatre.

In 1936, the ABC introduced Celebrity Subscription Concerts, and artists and conductors – many from overseas – were engaged. The concerts were performed initially in His Majesty's Theatre and then later in the Capitol Theatre and Winthrop Hall at the University of Western Australia. The Western Studio Orchestra became the Perth Concert orchestra, and this orchestra was later augmented for the celebrity concerts and became known as the ABC (Perth) Symphony Orchestra. By 1937, the letters "ABC" had been dropped from the title and the orchestra once again became known as the Perth Symphony Orchestra.

In 1950, the government of the day, with other municipal bodies, made funds available to subsidise the existing ABC Orchestra. By the end of that year, the West Australian Symphony Orchestra was born, boasting forty permanent members. In 1997, the ABC divested all ABC orchestras from the Concerts department of the ABC into separate subsidiary companies, including a service company known as Symphony Australia. The West Australian Symphony was incorporated in January 1998. Since corporatising, the orchestra has diversified its performances, expanding on its summer outdoor season and taking music to many parts of the community. It has a creative partnership with the West Australian Opera and the West Australian Ballet.

WASO principal conductors have included Henry Krips (1948–1971), Tibor Paul (1971–1973), David Measham (1974–1981), and Jorge Mester[1] (1991–1994). Measham took the orchestra on its first overseas tour, to Singapore, and to the Sydney Festival. In 1975, he instigated the inaugural indoor season of three Promenade Concerts, modelled after The Proms, as part of the Perth International Arts Festival. Measham also held the title of principal guest conductor from 1981 to 1986. Vladimir Verbitsky became principal guest conductor in 1992 and conductor laureate in 1997.

Matthias Bamert was chief conductor from 2003 to 2006. His initial contract with WASO was through 2007, but dissatisfaction with his tenure caused the orchestra to terminate his contract 18 months early, in May 2006.[2][3] In May 2007, WASO named Paul Daniel its principal conductor, effective as of January 2009.[4] He had made his guest conducting debut with the WASO in 1995, and returned in April 2006.[5] In November 2010, the WASO announced the extension of Daniel's contract as principal conductor through December 2013,[6] at which time his tenure concluded. In May 2012, WASO announced the appointment of Asher Fisch as its newest principal conductor, effective 1 January 2014, with an initial contract of 3 years.[7]

Principal conductors[edit]

Awards and nominations[edit]

APRA-AMC Classical Music Awards[edit]

The APRA-AMC Classical Music Awards are presented annually by Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA) and Australian Music Centre (AMC).[8]

Year Recipient/Nominated work Award Result
2004 This Insubstantial Pageant (Gordon Kerry) – West Australian Symphony Orchestra Orchestral Work of the Year[9] Won
West Australian Symphony Orchestra Most Distinguished Contribution to the Presentation of Australian Composition by an Organisation[9] Won
2005 The Dischord Hunter – West Australian Symphony Orchestra, Education Chamber Orchestra (WASO EChO) Outstanding Contribution to Australian Music in Education[10] Won
2006 Line Drawing (James Ledger) – Genevieve Lacey, West Australian Symphony Best Performance of an Australian Composition[11] Won
2008 Trumpet Concerto (James Ledger) – West Australian Symphony Orchestra, David Elton (trumpet), Sachio Fujioka (conductor) Orchestral Work of the Year[12] Nominated
Concerto Project – West Australian Symphony Orchestra Outstanding Contribution by an Organisation[12] Nominated
2009 Symphony No. 7 Scenes from Daily Life ( Carl Vine) – West Australian Symphony Orchestra Best Performance of an Australian Composition[13] Won

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Daniel Cariaga (20 May 1990). "Conductor Jorge Mester Makes a Commute Down Under". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 24 March 2012. 
  2. ^ Stephen Bevis, "Make play while sun shines". The West Australian, 1 January 2007.
  3. ^ Ben Mattison (22 May 2006). "West Australian Symphony Fires Conductor Matthias Bamert". Playbill Arts. Retrieved 3 March 2009. 
  4. ^ Stephen Bevis, "English maestro to conduct WASO". The West Australian, 17 May 2007.
  5. ^ Harriet Cunningham, "Paul Daniel named principal conductor in Perth". Gramophone, 21 May 2007.
  6. ^ "Paul Daniel to continues as WASO's Principal Conductor" (PDF) (Press release). West Australian Symphony Orchestra. 9 November 2010. Retrieved 24 March 2012. 
  7. ^ "WASO announces Principal Conductor and Artistic Adviser" (PDF) (Press release). West Australian Symphony Orchestra. 3 May 2012. Retrieved 6 May 2012. 
  8. ^ "Classical Awards". Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA). Retrieved 6 May 2010. 
  9. ^ a b "2004 Winners – Classical Music Awards". Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA). Retrieved 7 September 2010. 
  10. ^ "2005 Winners – Classical Music Awards". Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA). Retrieved 17 May 2010. 
  11. ^ "2006 Winners – Classical Music Awards". Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA). Retrieved 6 May 2010. 
  12. ^ a b "2008 Finalists – Classical Music Awards". Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA). Retrieved 6 May 2010. 
  13. ^ "Winners – Classical Music Awards". Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA). Retrieved 28 April 2010. 

External links[edit]