On 26 March 1947, the 45-member Queensland Symphony Orchestra (QSO) performed its debut concert to 2,500 music enthusiasts in Brisbane City Hall under the baton of guest conductor Percy Code. This defining moment marked a new era of music making in Queensland.
QSO was founded by the Australian Broadcasting Commission, Queensland State Government and Brisbane City Council and in its first year performed 31 concerts. In the second, QSO inaugurated the longest land-based annual concert tour in the world at that time. The company has always believed in sharing the power of music, particularly in its home state.
Seventy-five years later, the Orchestra has played its way into the hearts of Queenslanders from Mount Isa to Mackay and Townsville to the Tweed, performing in town halls, on open air stages by the sea, in dusty main streets of the outback, school classrooms, remote communities and of course, on its home stage in our QPAC Concert Hall. Its members hold fond memories of their time with the company.
“I still have a very vivid memory of our last Maestro concert of 2021, which was Rossini’s The Thieving Magpie, Debussy’s La Mer and Strauss’ Rosenkavalier Suite. I couldn’t get the Rosenkavalier out of my head for weeks afterwards. I haven’t been in the Orchestra for long at all so I’m still building up my list [of memorable moments]!” – Natsuko Yoshimoto, Concertmaster
“My three top memories of live performances are: the Bernstein at 100 gala in 2018, led by Alondra de la Parra celebrating this musical genius in some of his most special works; last year’s premiere performances of William Barton’s Apii Thatini Mu Murtu (to sing and carry a coolamon on country together), his first large-scale didgeridoo and full orchestra work; and being at our Community in Concert in Chinchilla in 2018, when over 130 local student and community musicians played alongside QSO musicians to a capacity audience – there was so much joy and energy in that space and the power of music was truly felt.” – Timothy Matthies, Director Artistic Planning
“The Ferry Rd Chamber Series – 1990s. They were during my early years in the orchestra and there was such a sense of potential and excitement. I was involved in everything I could fit into my schedule, both in and outside the orchestra during those years. The chamber series was a wonderful intersection of these things.
“For a number of years, Paul Dean, Tom Coyle and myself ran a contemporary chamber series to explore some of the music and composers that weren’t really represented in the less adventurous programming of the regular chamber series. The core of that series was a trio (Paul, Tom and myself) with the somewhat oblique name of Two Complete Lunatics. We commissioned and performed more than 20 new works, often by local composers, over a three year period. The culmination of our ‘lunatic’ behaviour was shaving our heads in a live performance to raise money for charity. We have joked about a repeat performance though there’s probably not enough hair between us to get through the piece. We may have to trim the music too.” – David Montgomery, Section Principal Percussion
Music is a result of collaboration, and QSO has always been a magnet for international artists. 2022 is no exception, with this year’s program featuring visiting soloists including Australian pianist Daniel de Borah, German cellist Daniel Müller-Schott, Uzbek pianist Behzod Abduraimov, UK violin master Jack Liebeck, one of the most sought-after young tenors in the world in Kang Wang, and, in a major coup, violinist/conductor Guy Braunstein, who was the youngest violinist ever appointed as concertmaster of the Berlin Philharmonic.
The 2022 program also pedestals Australian composers with 20 works to be performed over the year – composer and QSO cellist Craig Allister Young’s 75th birthday celebration piece will be premiered in the Concert Hall and then featured on tour, Queensland composer Paul Dean’s concerto for double bass and orchestra written for QSO’s dynamic Section Principal Double Bass, Phoebe Russell, will premiere in November, and the Australian premiere of Brisbane-born, Berlin-based composer Cathy Milliken’s Piece 43 For Now takes place in August.
As always, the Orchestra is more than ready to share the magic of live music with their 2022 audiences. Here are just a few moments they are most looking forward to:
“Mozart’s Clarinet in April! I will be performing as soloist with the wonderful work. Although it is nerve-racking, it is always a pleasure to stand in front of our fantastic orchestra to play Mozart’s most loved concerto. Every time I play the concerto I try to find some new interest and nuance in it, which keeps it challenging and exciting. Next would be our other Mozart concert (sensing a theme here?!), Mozart’s Requiem in May. Playing with a choir is such an amazing feeling when we’re on stage, and also features the not often-heard basset horn. It’s a type of clarinet that sits between the clarinet and bass clarinet in size and is world renowned for its epic squeaking ability!” – Irit Silver, Section Principal Clarinet
“I’m looking forward to Guy Braunstein returning – he was concertmaster of Berlin Philharmonic and it was both great fun and great encouragement when he came last time. He’s doing two programs in October, and I know both Natsuko and I are very keen on his residence with us.” – Warwick Adeney, Concertmaster
“My top three for the 2022 Season would be Strauss’ Alpine Symphony, Brahms’ Symphony No. 3 with Asher Fisch, and our fantastic regional tour across Queensland. I’m particularly looking forward to visiting Longreach this year.” – Malcolm Stuart, Section Principal French Horn
“There are so many wonderful highlights during this 75th birthday season... I guess I’m always looking out for great flute moments, I’m just a bit biased of course and this season QSO will be performing one of the most beautiful works that features the flute, Debussy’s L’Apres-midi d’un faun. This concert introduces our audiences to the American conductor Jonathan Stockhammer and this entire program, which includes Stravinsky’s Symphony of Wind Instruments and Mozart’s Requiem is a real highlight.” – Alison Mitchell, Section Principal Flute
As QSO celebrate their 75th birthday throughout this year, we hope Queenslanders continue to enjoy many more musical moments with our much-loved State Orchestra.
Introducing Kids to the Orchestra
Children will be introduced to all of the orchestral instrument families: string, woodwind, brass and percussion by QSO horn player Vivienne Collier-Vickers.
Get creative in Roma
QPAC brought Creative Fusions to Roma; a five-day music-making program for musicians aged 10 to 100 years.
Ishmael first day
Take a peek behind the scenes at the first day of rehearsals for Dead Puppet Society’s much anticipated world premiere production, Ishmael.
An Interview with Gideon Mzembe
Actor Gideon Mzembe talks about his life and his career while he was at QPAC, performing in shake & stir theatre co’s sold-out return season of Animal Farm.
The Role of the Staging Director
An Interview with An American in Paris Australian Staging Director Hannah Ryan, during the Australian premiere season at QPAC.
A yarn about Frozen costumes
Read the interview with Frozen’s Costume Designer and Wigs associate Janet Hine who oversaw the creation of costumes for the Australian production of Frozen.
Fanfare Competition 2021 Finalists
The 2021 Artology Fanfare competition saw over 100 young Australian composers submit their very own attention-grabbing composition.
An Acrobat’s Warm Up
Circa Contemporary Circus calls QPAC’s Playhouse home for a season each year. Here’s a glimpse of the company warming up for its five-star show Humans.
An Evening with Anthony Warlow
Gather insight into Anthony’s life and his decades-long internationally acclaimed career.
Remembering a True Giant of the Arts
Dr Tony Gould AM was QPAC's founding Director. QPAC's Chief Executive, John Kotzas, sat down with Rebecca Levingston on ABC Radio Brisbane to remember him.
Mother by Noni Hazlehurst
An artist, educator and activist, Noni Hazlehurst considers ideas of madness from her role in Mother and as an individual of our society today.
From Broadway with Love
The Australian musical theatre legend and internationally acclaimed star of Broadway and The West End talks about her new solo show.
Shear Brilliance Comes to QPAC
Internationally acclaimed Brisbane-based Circa has joined forces with animation studio Aardman to create a new circus-theatre production.
How to inspire creativity in children
Regularly flexing creative muscle as children and adults builds arts literacy – the ability to identify, interpret & assess in varying arts forms and contexts.
Paul Keating Moves to QPAC's Upper House
We caught up with Biggins about the return season of The Gospel According to Paul.
How to be creative
QPAC asked a musical theatre star, an artistic director, a lighting designer and a professor of the arts for their tips on how to be creative.
The Fanfare competition invited young composers aged 12 to 21 years to submit their own short 30 second attention-grabbing composition.
The Role of Early Music Today
Tembembe Ensamble member Leopoldo Novoa talks about his experience playing with early music superstar Jordi Savall.
Behind the Scenes
Our Behind the Scenes series takes you on an exclusive journey into the heart of QPAC, where the magic of the stage comes to life.
Five Minutes with ... Jonathan Biggins
We spent five minutes with Jonathan Biggins who starred in The Gospel According to Paul he’s pure PJK with his wit, intellect and ego.
Five Minutes with ... Noni Hazlehurst
We spent five minutes with Noni Hazlehurst who is one of Australia’s best known, and most well-loved actors. In a career spanning decades Noni is a household name.
Five Minutes with ... Laser Beak Man
We spent five minutes with Laser Beak Man who was created by Tim in 1999 at aged 11. Since then Tim and Laser Beak Man have won fans all over the world.
Five Minutes with ... Suzi Quatro
We spent five minutes with Suzi Quatro who is a singer, songwriter, actor, activist, glam rock legend and role model. With 50 million albums sold, the she continues to delight in creating music.
Five Minutes with ... John Cameron Mitchell
We spent five minutes with John Cameron Mitchell who is a writer, director and actor that we’ve seen on stages and screens from infamous New York City night clubs and Broadway theatres.
Five Minutes with ... Cyndi Lauper
We spent five minutes with Cyndi Lauper who won a Tony Award for her score for the Broadway musical Kinky Boots making her the first woman to ever win solo in that category.
Five Minutes with ... Sarah McLeod
We spent five minutes with Sarah McLeod who is an Australian singer-songwriter known both for her solo work and as the singer/guitarist of rock band The Superjesus.
Five Minutes with … Jimeoin
We spent five minutes with Jimeoin, the English-born Irish stand-up comedian and actor, who is well known not only for his live gigs, but also for his television shows.
Five Minutes with … Eddie Perfect
We spent five minutes with Eddie Perfect who is a singer-songwriter, pianist, comedian, writer and actor.
Five Minutes with ... Vika and Linda Bull
We spent five minutes with Vika and Linda Bull, an Australian vocal duo who came to prominence after singing backing vocals in Joe Camilleri's band The Black Sorrows from 1988.
Five Minutes with ... Reuben Kaye
We spent five minutes with Reuben Kaye, acclaimed comedian and cabaret icon who is described as “the evil love child of Liza Minnelli and Jim Carrey” (British Theatre Guide).
Five Minutes with ... Robert Grubb
We spent five minutes with acclaimed actor Robert Grubb who played the dual roles of Admiral Boom and Chairman of the Bank in Disney and Cameron Mackintosh's Mary Poppins.
Five Minutes with ... Damien Leith
We spent five minutes with Damien Leith whose career skyrocketed after winning Australian Idol in 2006, Since then, he’s been a singer, playwright and tv/radio host personality, sometimes all at once.
Five Minutes with ... SOLCHLD
We spent five minutes with SOLCHLD to chat about her inspirations, what makes her laugh, and how the BlakBeats program has helped her as a musician.
Five Minutes with ... Sami Afuni
We spent five minutes with Brisbane-born performer Sami Afuni who thrilled audiences in HAMILTON, performing in the dual role of Hercules Mulligan/James Madison.
Five Minutes with ... Peter Cook
We spent five minutes with Brisbane playwright and actor Peter Cook who returned to his hometown in February 2023 with his compelling and uplifting one-man play, Breaking the Castle.
The People's Day Playlist
Stephen Anderson, who plays Willy Wonka, and Lucy Maunder, who plays Mrs Bucket, pick their favourite childhood songs and tell us what makes them special.
See what songs are on musical theatre star Philip Quast's playlist.
The Ultimate Musical Playlist
Listen to the ultimate musical playlist as chosen by three of musical theatres leading ladies.
World Violin Day Playlist
We asked the talented violinists of Camerata to share their favourite music featuring the violin and why.
Alexandra Flood’s Playlist
Find out what music makes the top ten play list for an internationally acclaimed coloratura soprano.
Our Ultimate Listening Guide
Tune into the music picks of these three superstar Australian performers who come together for an evening filled with opera arias and Broadway show tunes.
Five Minutes with ... Isabella Swietlicki
We chatted with Isabella Swietlicki about her most treasured festive memories and what she loves most about Christmas