Cartier Masthead Final Weeks

What do beer and classical music have in common?

Jolene Laverty

What do beer and classical music have in common?

Classical music performance has a serious problem. Due to some fierce competition for consumers’ time and money, concert audience numbers are falling right around the world. There are of course those who remain loyal to classical music, but many are ageing and can no longer make every concert, and the younger generation seems to have no real interest in taking their place.

It’s an issue for orchestras everywhere, and yet a quick glance around the audience of the Canberra Symphony Orchestra would suggest that we have so far managed to dodge that bullet. Not only are our older audience members staying with us, but younger audiences are happily coming for a night out with the orchestra as well. At any given CSO concert, in addition to those who have been coming for fifty years, there will be young professionals whose work lanyards are often still clipped to their belts; couples out on a rare date-night; teenagers who have been brought by their parents to hear how the violin can sound if they’d just-keep-practising-damn-it; and university students who will line up an hour before the concert to get the $20 ‘Student Rush’ ticket. This empirical evidence is backed by actual evidence from the ABS, which shows that between 2009 and 2014 the number of classical music concert attendees decreased in every Australian state, but during that same time the number increased in the ACT.

The Canberra region has once again bucked the trend! Without much argument, we can attribute our interest in classical music concerts to a few key factors which are often espoused in discussions on such matters, including higher levels of income and education. But looking a little deeper, I suspect there to be something more at play, which can perhaps be linked to the cultural shift toward a passion and appreciation for the ‘bespoke’. This appreciation of the skills of others, of time, and of quality, are the reasons a beer lover prefers the complex flavours of a locally brewed ale over VB; a ‘foodie’ prefers an eight-hour roast with home-made gravy over tuna bake from a jar; and those who love music are drawn to the live classical music experience.

The Canberra Symphony Orchestra’s 2017 Season is on sale now, and next year there are even more opportunities to experience for yourself the thrill and exhilaration of live symphony concert. The CSO’s Chief Conductor and Artistic Director Dr Nicholas Milton AM has crafted a spectacular year of music, which he has done with careful consideration. He describes the four flagship concerts in the ActewAGL Llewellyn Series as-

“a boundless spectacle of sonic images, colours and orchestral textures—from the taut, elegantly dramatic compression of a Haydn overture, to the hauntingly evocative Concerto for Birds and Orchestra by Finnish composer, Rautavaara. Human stories are also wondrously depicted through the miracle of the orchestra, from the heroism of Richard Strauss and Sergei Prokofiev, through to the intense romanticism of Brahms’ supremely crafted symphonic homage to his friend and mentor, Robert Schumann.”

For the first time in 2017, we launch the CSO’s Australian Series, which sees two of the capital’s favourite institutions come together to create something new. The CSO Australian Series will be held at the National Portrait Gallery (NPG) to coincide with three special exhibitions.  This innovative series includes three concerts of cutting edge classical Australian composition, which is conceived, curated and compered by Prof. Matthew Hindson AM.  Hindson will conduct some of Australia’s most exciting instrumentalists to create a musical landscape that will enhance the emotional, physical and abstract themes of the images on display.  The NPG’s Gordon Darling Hall is a superb space both visually and acoustically, which audiences will certainly enjoy.  Following the CSO Australian Series concert, a private tour of the NPG’s featured exhibition will take place.  Admission is by pre-purchased ticket only and includes entrance to the paired exhibition.

Perennial family favourites, the ever-popular Shell Prom Picnic Concert and the Canberra Weekly Matinee Magic, feature the orchestra in a more relaxed mood. In the magnificent and picturesque gardens of Government House, the CSO will join with Australia’s finest guitar quartet in an engaging celebration of Guitar Trek’s 30th anniversary. Matinee Magic sees the orchestra go to Vegas in a program of swing hits from the 50s and 60s, with Australia’s leading lady and doyenne of cabaret Rhonda Burchmore, and charismatic crooner Andy Seymour.

In 2017, to celebrate the cultural exchange between Australia and Germany, the CSO Opera Gala will be a spectacular international collaboration with the world-class singers a unique from the State Opera House of Saarbrücken, Germany. This Canberra-only performance is made possible through a special international cultural exchange initiative by the federal governments of Australia and Germany. Whether you love opera or want to explore this fantastical world for the first time, the 2017 CSO Opera Gala is simply not to be missed!

The Canberra Symphony Orchestra’s 2017 Season is on sale now. Make 2017 a year for exceptional music!

To learn more, please visit our website.

HerCanberra is a proud supporter of the Canberra Symphony Orchestra



Jolene Laverty

Jolene Laverty was born and raised in Darwin, but has lived in Canberra for most of her adult life. She spent close to twenty years in radio, which took her to the copper outback of Port Augusta to the sparkling aquamarine waves of the Whitsundays. Today she is a member of the Canberra Symphony Orchestra*, ANU student, wife of a high-school teacher/rock-musician, and mother to three children who were each born in a different decade. *not allowed on stage. More about the Author