the Podium -

Welcome to The Podium, the quarterly newsletter of Symphony Services International.

Our featured article in this issue is by Rhoderick McNeill of the University of Southern Queensland who looks at Australian composition prior to 1970. Programming is a complex and interesting process for orchestras, and Rhoderick’s article invites us to consider lesser-known works that might enrich the palette of our orchestral repertoire. Click here for the full story

You can also read Gordon Williams’ fascinating first dispatch from America, from the East Bay area of San Francisco, where orchestras are facing and meeting 21st century challenges in innovative and exciting ways.  In this edition we also profile the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra which came on board as an Associate towards the end of 2010.

This year Symphony Services International is excited to launch its new-look Goodear Acoustic Shield and add new editions to our popular new imprint, Goodear Publications.  Staff will also be attending a variety of international conferences and events and will report back to you via our Foreign Correspondence section of the website.

Symphony Services has seen a number of staff moves recently, with the departures of Alison Saunders (Artist Services Manager) and Gordon Williams (Audience Development Manager), and the imminent departure of Alexis Aitken (Artist Services Co-ordinator). The good news is that all three are moving onto wonderful new opportunities including within our own network of Members, and Gordon will continue contributing to this newsletter through a series of reports as he moves through the United States. Keep an eye on our website for information about new staff who will join us to work in the Artist Services area soon.

Of course this issue of The Podium contains our usual top tips and information about Symphony Services International’s other products and services for orchestras large and small around the world.  Happy reading!

Kate Lidbetter
Chief Executive Officer
Symphony Services International


Associate Profile: the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra

Headquartered in Wellington, the NZSO was founded in 1946 and administered then by Radio New Zealand, later the New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation. It is now a crown entity, owned by the New Zealand government. Pietari Inkinen is the NZSO’s Music Director, having succeeded James Judd, who held the position from 1999 to 2007, and is now Music Director Emeritus.

The orchestra’s establishment strength is 90 players, and it performs over 100 concerts each year. Touring is a big part of the orchestra’s brief, and while it gives all its main symphonic programs in Auckland and Wellington, it tours to some 30 New Zealand towns and cities as well. The Orchestra’s international tours have included some of the world’s most prestigious concert halls. Its October 2010 tour saw performances in Germany, Switzerland, Slovenia and at Vienna’s hallowed Musikverein. In 2008, the NZSO took part in the Beijing Olympic Cultural Festival and last year performed at the Beijing World Expo.

NZSOThe NZSO has an extensive recording catalogue, with over a million CDs sold internationally in the last decade. The orchestra has a strong relationship with Naxos, with whom their recording repertoire has included music by Elgar, Ferdinand Ries, Beethoven, Bernstein, Copland, Lilburn, Sculthorpe, John Antill (Corroboree), Frank Bridge, Akutagawa, Mendelssohn, Honegger, Liszt, and Vaughan Williams. The NZSO has been online since 1994, and claims the world’s first orchestral website.

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Increasingly orchestras around the world are assisting audiences by projecting surtitles for concert works involving texts. In addition to the 3,500 program notes that Symphony Services offers for reprint, SSI’s Publications department now offers a surtitling service. Symphony Service’s first four surtitles have been created by surtitler and opera director, Antony Ernst.

Beginning with surtitles for the Auckland Philharmonia’s concert performance of Richard Strauss’s Elektra, SSI has produced surtitles for the St. Matthew Passion as well as for the ‘Ode to Joy’, the last movement of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. These have been added to Haydn’s Creation to form the nucleus of a collection that is available for hire by orchestras worldwide. SSI produces surtitles on out-of-copyright works depending on worldwide applicability.

If the work you are considering is not on our list, we may also commission the surtitles on your behalf and just charge you the usual hire fee, so why not contact SSI for a quote next time you need surtitles? Back to top

Top tip: applying for an Australia Council grant

APOGrant applications are tricky things, and putting together the strongest possible bid for funding is really important to many orchestras and individuals.  Symphony Services International will soon have a ‘how to’ sheet on its website with more detail on giving yourself the best chance at success.  Meantime, here are a few tips that will help you get started.

  • Allow enough time (usually at least a month) before the closing date to write your proposal, gather support material and edit it all.
  • Ring the appropriate Australia Council staff member early in the process to discuss your plans and the best way to present your case.
  • Make sure you have the written agreement of any artists that you name as collaborators in the application.  Don’t include them in the application now and hope they’ll say yes later!
  • Ensure you answer each of the selection criteria fully and accurately.  These are what you will be assessed against.
  • Follow the published guidelines regarding font size, word limits and margins.  If you can’t fit what you have to say into the recommended format, edit it!
  • Ensure you have the best possible support material with clear sound, vision and if it’s written material, no typos or grammatical errors.  Don’t send material that hasn’t been requested (eg references, reviews etc).  These are unlikely to be given to the board for consideration.
  • Follow the guidelines provided to work out artists’ fees, commission rates and so on.  This will generally be the maximum that is granted.
  • Whether you submit your application electronically, via mail or in person, keep a receipt of the submission including the date and time as well as a photocopy of the entire application.
  • Make sure your budget adds up!
  • And finally, if you’re not successful seek feedback on why not.  Ask where your application was ranked, and for any discussion that may have taken place within the board... knowing where you might have gone wrong (or not!) is really helpful for next time. 
Don’t lose heart – if you believe in your project you’ll find a way to fund it eventually.

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A Heritage Worthy of Revival - Australia’s forgotten music

Drefus with DreyfusRhoderick McNeill surveys Australian composers pre-1970, and suggests they left us a body of work that is worthy of re-evaluation and celebration.

None of Australia’s important composers have captured the national imagination like our sporting heroes.  They are not commemorated on Australian postage stamps or our money.  Nevertheless, in recent years it has been possible to hear and purchase commercial recordings of the major Australian orchestral works of our time, including music by Sculthorpe, Meale, Dean, Vine, Edwards, Broadstock and Koehne.  In contrast, older Australian works that pre-date 1970 are little-known.  This neglect may be partly due to the lasting influence of music commentators from the late 1960s and the 70s.  Sympathetic to the modernism emerging in the 1960s, they criticised the derivative element within older Australian music, especially the perceived influence of so-called British ‘pastoralism’. This view has not been displaced, despite the trends in musical fashion towards tonality, modality and ‘neo-romanticism’ of the past 30 years. Ironically, the important modernist works of the 1960s are also overshadowed by recent developments and share the neglect of the pre-1960s repertoire. It‘s time to re-evaluate Australia’s concert music for orchestra. In this article I want to bring to your attention a number of Australian orchestral compositions that we should hear and celebrate. Read the full article>

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Foreign Correspondence:

Gordon in USEast side story - Gordon Williams reporting from San Francisco

You’d almost expect musical innovation in the East Bay area of San Francisco. Harry Partch, who conceived music with 43 tones to the octave, was born in Oakland in 1901 and, though a hobo for much of his life, regarded the Oakland/East Bay area as his preferred stomping ground. In 1946 Dave Brubeck, fresh from the army, went to an all-girls’ school here, Mills College, specifically to study with Darius Milhaud. Gertrude Stein, whose family moved here in 1878, reputedly said of Oakland, “There is no there there.” But the city has made a defiant feature of the novelist’s statement, so the area is probably not as empty as this statement could be taken to mean.

My wife, Kate, and I been here seven weeks now, stomping up and down ourselves between downtown Oakland and the university precinct of Berkeley, and to be frank, have hardly set foot in ‘the city’, as East Bay denizens refer to San Francisco. We’ve barely felt the need to. There is so much going on over here. Read the full article>

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Speed read: articles worth looking into

Another US orchestra responds to its community

Riccardo Muti warns of the threat to Italian culture from budget cuts,0,3101984.story

Lost choral masterpiece finally makes the charts

John Zorn and some new monodramas

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About us

Symphony Services International, formerly Symphony Australia, has for many years been orchestrating excellence in Australia. Supporting the ABC Symphony Australia Young Performers Awards and setting international benchmarks with the Conductor Development program, we also hold the southern hemisphere’s largest classical print music library, offer over 3,500 program notes and take the headache out of tour management. Now all members of the global orchestral community can benefit from our products and services, assisting orchestras and classical musicians to perform at their best. Back to top


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