Adelaide Symphony Orchestra

The Adelaide Symphony Orchestra (ASO) is a South Australian performing arts organisation comprising 75 full-time musicians, established in 1936.

Adelaide Symphony Orchestra
Former nameSouth Australian Symphony Orchestra
Principal conductorNicholas Carter

Based in Adelaide, South Australia, the orchestra's primary performance venue is the Adelaide Town Hall, but the ASO also performs in other venues. It provides the orchestral support for all productions of the State Opera of South Australia and all Adelaide performances of the Australian Ballet. It also features regularly at the Adelaide Festival, and has performed at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival, WOMAdelaide and several other festivals in Adelaide.


In 1936 the South Australian Orchestra was supplanted by the 50-member Adelaide Symphony Orchestra led by William Cade, and sponsored by the Australian Broadcasting Commission (later the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, or ABC).[1]

The orchestra reformed in 1949 as the 55-member South Australian Symphony Orchestra, with Henry Krips as its resident conductor. The orchestra reverted to its original title, the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, in late 1975.[citation needed]

The ASO's highlights have included its 1998 performances of Richard Wagner's Ring Cycle, the first Australian production since 1913[2] (although it was widely and erroneously claimed to be the first ever in Australia).

The orchestra participated in the first fully Australian production of The Ring in 2004.[citation needed]

In 2007, the orchestra partnered with Hilltop Hoods to prepare a re-orchestrated release of their album The Hard Road, titled The Hard Road: Restrung.[3]

In 2009 Premier and Arts Minister Mike Rann proposed and provided government funding to the ASO to commission a major orchestral work about climate change. The ASO's world premiere of Gerard Brophy's The Blue Thread, inspired by the River Murray, was performed at the Concert for the Earth at the Adelaide Town Hall on 27 November 2010.[4] The Rann government proposed and arranged funding for two further ASO commissions, the first an orchestral tribute to the cricketer Sir Donald Bradman, and the second commemorating the centenary of the ANZAC landings at Gallipoli. The world premiere of Our Don by Natalie Williams was performed by the ASO in August 2014.[5]

The world premiere of an ANZAC Requiem by composer Iain Grandage and librettist Kate Mulvany was performed on 22 April 2015.[6]

In 2015 the Hilltop Hoods collaborated for a second time with the 32-piece Adelaide Symphony Orchestra and the 20-piece Adelaide Chamber Singers Choir for their next re-orchestrated album titled Drinking from the Sun, Walking Under Stars Restrung.[7] In February 2016, the Hilltop Hoods released their second album of reworked songs featuring the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, Drinking from the Sun, Walking under Stars Restrung, which debuted at #1 in the charts.

In 2016 the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra formed its first Artistic Leadership Team, comprising its new Artist in Association, violinist Pinchas Zukerman, Principal Guest Conductor and Artistic Advisor, Sir Jeffrey Tate, and the orchestra's own Principal Conductor,[citation needed] Nicholas Carter. Carter was the youngest Principal Conductor in the orchestra's history, and the first Australian conductor to be appointed to a Principal Conductor position with a major Australian orchestra in almost 30 years.[8]

In 2017 the orchestra was central in the Adelaide Festival's staging of Barrie Kosky's Saul – a production from Glyndebourne Opera in the UK, and again in 2018 for the Adelaide Festival's Glyndebourne Opera production and Australian premiere of composer Brett Dean's new opera, Hamlet. These performances were received with critical acclaim and numerous Helpmann Awards.[citation needed]

In 2018 the Artistic Leadership Team evolved to include young violinist and the orchestra's new Emerging Artist in Association, Grace Clifford; Australian composer and the orchestra's new Composer in Association, Cathy Milliken; and British conductor and the orchestra's new Principal Guest Conductor, Mark Wigglesworth.[citation needed]

Current compositionEdit

As of 2021 the Artistic Leadership Team consists of Pinchas Zukerman, Cathy Milliken, and Mark Wigglesworth,[9] while the orchestra comprises a total of 75 musicians.[10]

Venues and ongoing workEdit

The orchestra's primary performance venue is the Adelaide Town Hall, but the ASO also performs in other venues such as the Adelaide Festival Centre, Adelaide Entertainment Centre, Elder Hall at the University of Adelaide and its own Grainger Studio. The ASO provides the orchestral support for all productions of the State Opera of South Australia, as well as the Adelaide performances of the Australian Ballet. The orchestra is also a regular featured ensemble at the Adelaide Festival, and also appears as part of the Adelaide Cabaret Festival, OzAsia Festival, Adelaide Guitar Festival and WOMAdelaide.[citation needed]

Recognition, awards and international toursEdit

ARIA Music AwardsEdit

Year Nominated works Award Result
1995 Dream Child Best Children's Album Nominated
Powerhouse Three Poems of Byron – Capriccio Nocturnes Unchained Melody with David Porcelijn and János Fürst Best Classical Album Nominated
1997 Peter Sculthorpe: Sun Music with David Porcelijn Won
2002 Gorecki: Symphony No. 3 with Yvonne Kenny Nominated
2007 Sculthorpe Requiem and Orchestral Works with Arvo Volmer Nominated
2018 Home with Greta Bradman, Adelaide Chamber Singers, Luke Dollman Nominated
2019 Bach Concertos with Grigoryan Brothers, Benjamin Northey Nominated
2020 Beethoven Piano Concertos with Jayson Gillham, Nicholas Carter [12] Nominated

Principal conductorsEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "New Symphony Orchestra of 50 Performers Formed". The News (Adelaide). XXVI, (4, 001). South Australia. 19 May 1936. p. 1. Retrieved 7 February 2017 – via National Library of Australia.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link) This article lists all members except the harpist and tympanists.[verification needed]
  2. ^ The Ring was first performed in Australia at Her Majesty's Theatre in Melbourne in August 1913 (Das Rheingold, 19 August; Die Walkure, 22 August; Siegfried, 25 August; Gotterdammerung, 29 August), Erik Irvin, Dictionary of the Australian Theatre 1788-1914, pp. 245, 246[verification needed]
  3. ^ McCabe, Kathy (17 May 2007). "Hilltop Hoods on Classics". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 10 August 2014.[verification needed]
  4. ^ Samela Harris, Adelaide Advertiser, 25 November 2015, "Don't call me a greenie"; and ABC 7 December 2010, "Australian Broadcast Highlights, The Blue Thread"[verification needed]
  5. ^ Forester, Gordon (15 August 2014). "Our Don Review-Donald Bradman's Symphonic Tribute Hits for Six". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 September 2014.[verification needed]
  6. ^ ASO Annual Report, 2011[verification needed]
  7. ^ "Hilltop Hoods announce new Restrung album, national tour, drop 'Higher' | Music News | triple j". Retrieved 2 March 2016.[verification needed]
  8. ^ a b The Advertiser Off The Record: Orchestra now in baton race to replace young gun March 31, 2017 "Complicating matters in 32-year-old Carter's case is the nature of his historic appointment – the first Australian to lead a state orchestra in 30 years and one of the youngest ever. In 2015, the ASO board recognised his youthful brilliance but, in an unusual move, also appointed old hands Jeffrey Tate and Pinchas Zukerman to help."
  9. ^ a b "Artistic Leadership Team". Adelaide Symphony Orchestra. Retrieved 4 June 2021.
  10. ^ "Meet the Orchestra". Adelaide Symphony Orchestra. Retrieved 4 June 2021.
  11. ^ "AIR Awards:2019 AIR Awards Winners Announced!". AIM. Retrieved 27 August 2019.
  12. ^ "And the 2020 ARIA Awards Go To…". Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA). Archived from the original on 26 November 2020. Retrieved 5 December 2020.