THE state’s classical musicians are thinking outside the orchestra pit in an effort to take their art form to a new generation of admirers.
The recent success of the Symphony by the Lake concert, presented by the Perth Symphony Orchestra earlier this month, is a case in point. In a concert for all ages under the stars, the orchestra played music from the movies Love Actually, The Godfather, The Lion King and TV series Merlin, as well as Metallica’s Nothing Else Matters.
Perth Symphony Orchestra founding director Bourby Webster has recognised the demand for more dynamic and multi-dimensional entertainment, and in order to help meet this demand she has now also established the Perth Chamber Orchestra.
Due to launch on April 10 with its Heritage Concert Series, the Perth Chamber Orchestra will follow in the footsteps of the Symphony Orchestra in terms of presenting classical music in a contemporary way.
The first performance in the series will take place ‘in the round’ in Perth’s heritage-listed GPO building.
Audience members will be offered a 360-degree view of the performance with the chance to change their observation point throughout the many brief intervals.
Keeping the performances short and interspersed with breaks is one way the organisers hope to attract more people to the event.
To keep it family friendly, the performance will start at 6pm and finish at 8pm, allowing people to arrive straight from work.
Artist Phil Doncon will paint ‘live’ pieces during the performance, and food and wine - selected to complement the music - will be available.
The Perth Chamber Orchestra aims to offer a more intimate experience than its larger sibling, the Symphony Orchestra. A maximum of 35 players will feature, and while covering a broad genre, the repertoire will be different to that of the Symphony.
This was a major undertaking, considering the only other professional orchestra in the state, the West Australian Symphony Orchestra, has been operating unrivalled for more than eight decades.
Ms Webster believes there is more than enough room for a second orchestra in the state, considering the large repertoire of classical music and Perth’s growing population.
“I’ve always had a desire to share classical music with the masses, to tempt new followers who may have never enjoyed classical music, put off by the formality or stuffy image the genre undeservedly endures,” Ms Webster said.
She was also involved in the formation of internationally renowned string quartet Bond, and said through this experience she realised how an audience could respond to classical music when it was presented in a different format.
She believes most people like good music when played well in the location, a theory evidenced by the success of Symphony by the Lake.
The concert drew a crowd of 3,000 and the positive response, as well as requests for future performances on social media, indicated to Ms Webster it was time to launch the Perth Chamber Orchestra.
Ms Webster encourages others throughout all art forms to head into unknown territory by making more bold and daring artistic choices.
“There are so many opportunities to bring more and more styles and new ideas into Perth, and I think the people of Perth are really open to trying new things and consuming the arts in as many different ways that we can offer them,” Ms Webster said.