Skip Links
Close Search

Sydney Symphony Orchestra

An orchestra of world standing 

Founded in 1932 by the Australian Broadcasting Commission, the Sydney Symphony Orchestra is an orchestra of world standing and one of the leading orchestras in the Asia-Pacific region. The Sydney Symphony performs approximately 150 concerts each year to an annual audience of more than 350,000. The Orchestra not only performs core symphonic repertoire but engages in collaborations with other art forms and commissions new works by Australian and international composers to ensure the vibrancy of orchestral music for generations to come. 

“This is an orchestra worthy of sharing the international stage with America and Europe’s finest.”
Limelight Magazine

2020 Season

Music doesn’t get more thrilling and moving than through the live performance from a 100-strong orchestra and the guest artists who join us from across the world. That’s the power of the music we share – it brings everyone together.

This is a season of wonderful experiences, featuring landmark works and an international roster of conductors. Donald Runnicles, Principal Guest Conductor, conducts Mahler’s sublime Fourth Symphony, Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis and a sparkling celebration of opera – the Italian Opera Gala. Former Chief Conductor David Robertson conducts Brahms choral masterpiece A German Requiem and Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto. And Chief Conductor Designate Simone Young conducts performances of Beethoven, Brahms and A Viennese Gala celebrating the greatest of waltz music.

It’s also a chance to hear the orchestra as you’ve rarely heard them before. During the renewal of the Concert Hall, the Sydney Symphony Orchestra will be resident in the Sydney Town Hall, one of the world’s best acoustic venues.

You can hear the orchestra performing at the Opera House in their Cocktail Hour chamber music series in the Utzon Room.


Sydney Symphony Orchestra 2020 Season

The Sydney Symphony Orchestra 2020 season is packed with star-talent and musical treasures. There really is something for all musical tastes and ages. Choose music.

Meet the Sydney Symphony Musicians

Kees Boersma

Principal Double Bass

So, why the white tie?

It’s a fair question. And it’s one we get asked a lot. The short answer is that the cut of this outfit makes everyone look good. But for me, there’s more to it than meets the eye. It does have history – form, if you will. Symphony orchestras (as we know them now) roared into existence in early 19th-century Europe, and the art of stepping out and going to the theatre demanded formal dress of everyone attending, including musicians. So, there’s the historical link. Tradition duly acknowledged.

After decades as a professional musician, I no longer think about the outfit as formal or overly fancy. It now means something else. The fact that we all dress in monochrome and the same style (female members of the orchestra being allowed some small, expressive latitude) speaks to the idea that we’re united in music – and united around its performance. Music is front and centre and all of us – musicians and audience members – become some part of that music.

So, there you have it. White tie – in honour of the music and of you, our audience. Incidentally, when you join us at a performance you're welcome to wear whatever you want.

Claire Herrick

First Violin

Shared energy

There’s always a moment when we’re playing on the Concert Hall stage when I think ‘Wow!’. There could be around 100 or 120 of us, all playing as one. The sheer number and variety of instruments in an orchestra is magnificent, but what is extraordinary and awe-inspiring is the sound we make. Our whisper is as powerful as our roar.

The music creates an energy as it leaves our instruments and flows among our audience. And as you, in the audience, hear and absorb it, I feel that energy reflected back to me on stage. Though we may come together in the same hall that evening as strangers, from the first notes there’s a connection that makes all of us a community – united by the same thing. Music.

And it needn’t just be in concert halls. I see school kids experiencing the sights and sound of our orchestra – perhaps for the first time – in wide-eyed wonder; I feel the joy music brings to patients in hospitals, the warm welcome of country audiences when we tour, or just the relaxation and joy on a balmy Sydney summer evening at an outdoor concert. Together we create and share in this wonderful energy together. There are so many ‘Wow’ moments.