the Podium

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

Thank you for joining us for this issue of The Podium, the quarterly newsletter of Symphony Services International. Following great feedback from Gordon Williams’ first US dispatch, we are pleased to present more of his thoughts on the situation for classical music in America.  This time he considers the plight of opera companies – how might they develop and grow in the current financial situation?  Many of the issues facing the opera world mirror those being experienced by symphony orchestras.  Click here to read Gordon’s thoughts.

Since the last newsletter, staff of Symphony Services International have been on the move.  Library Manager Vi King Lim attended the Major Orchestra Librarians' Association conference in London. Since the conference, Vi King has been invited to chair the newly set-up Asia/Pacific Committee of MOLA, which is a great honour – congratulations, Vi King!  I represented the company at the Singapore Live! Global Performing Arts Exchange in early June, immediately followed by the League of American Orchestras conference, held this year in Minnesota.  At both events we took a trade booth, talking to potential international clients about our Music Library, Goodear Editions, program notes/surtitles service and the Goodear Acoustic Shield.  All of these products and services attracted attention from orchestras large and small. My notes of both conferences, and links to transcripts and streamed videos of many of the League events, can be found here.

Our Top Tip in this edition relates to OHS/hearing issues for musicians, and I hope you’ll also enjoy our Speed Read which features a few relevant articles in the international press. Until next time…

Kate Lidbetter
Chief Executive Officer
Symphony Services International


Foreign Correspondence

Il PostinoDoors slamming shut? – where to, for American opera
Gordon Williams reporting from San Francisco

‘Crisis’. That’s the word you most often hear when someone in the US describes the state of opera in America these days. ‘Our donors are going gray’; ‘We’re one donor from disaster!’ And then they recount the companies that have collapsed in the recent past - Orlando, Baltimore, Opera Pacific, Connecticut, Berkshire – and you start to share their feeling of rising panic. Could the same thing happen in our part of the world? Perhaps not in this way, considering the extent of government support, but... Read the full article>

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Associate Profile – Australian Chamber Orchestra

ACONoted for its vibrant and adventurous spirit and with a repertoire spanning six centuries, the Australian Chamber Orchestra represents Australian classical music to the world. This band has performed in 37 countries in the world’s most prestigious concert halls, returning recently from the Ojai Festival and Berkeley in California. International tours in the second half of 2011 take in Seoul, Fukuoka, Kanazawa, Tokyo, Birmingham (Symphony Hall), London (Queen Elizabeth Hall), Vienna (Musikverein), Antwerp, Amsterdam (Concertgebouw), Munich, Luxembourg, Ludwigshafen and Basel.

With a subscription base of 10,000 subscribers at home, the Orchestra is Australia’s only truly national orchestra, presenting subscription series in Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Newcastle, Perth, Sydney and Wollongong.

Founded in 1975, the ensemble is now led by Richard Tognetti, who became Artistic Director and Lead Violin in 1989. The Orchestra is a versatile outfit, playing as an ‘ensemble of soloists’, a small symphony orchestra, or as an electro-acoustic group. With only the cellists seated, the orchestra plays standing, making for a characteristically energetic and individual sound.

Over its 36 year history, the Orchestra has developed strong artistic relationships with classical musicians and creative artists ranging from Emmanuel Pahud, Steven Isserlis and Dawn Upshaw, to Tim Freedman, Neil Finn, Katie Noonan, Barry Humphries and visual artists Michael Leunig, Bill Henson, Shaun Tan and Jon Frank in innovative cross-artform projects. The Orchestra has given 1700 performances of 250 works by 80 Australian composers.

Among the Orchestra’s recent coups was the purchase, through the ACO Instrument Fund, of a 1728/9 Stradivarius that is to be played by Assistant Leader Satu Vänskä.

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Taking the headache out of consultancies

Did you know that SSI now offers a consultancy brokerage service?  Our goal is to make your next consultancy as easy and successful as possible.  Our extensive database of consultants, with professional backgrounds in the arts and orchestras, covers areas of expertise such as strategic planning, governance, fundraising, finance, IT, marketing and more.  In collaboration with your company, SSI will write the brief, manage the tender process, help you to shortlist and select the appropriate consultant for your project and provide you with the tools to manage the consultancy.  And all for a very affordable price!  See more details on our website, or contact SSI today.

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Top tip

A Sound Ear IIOHS/Hearing issues for musicians

Hearing damage is one of the biggest OHS issues facing orchestras and orchestral musicians.  From children in school ensembles right through to professionals earning a living through their music, hearing protection should be paramount.

The Association of British Orchestras’ excellent document A Sound Ear II can be downloaded here.

This publication outlines recent increases to regulatory requirements for employers in Europe and the UK who must now act to protect their employees’ hearing at lower decibel levels.  The report notes that “Personal hearing protection will have to become a part of daily life for large numbers of musicians”.  There is every reason to expect that similar legislation will be enacted in Australia and other parts of the world in the future.

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News Flash from the Library!

The Symphony Services Music Library holds an extensive collection of orchestral music with nearly 23,000 sets.  We’ve recently added many John Williams Signature Editions which are available for hire, including orchestral suites and numbers from popular films such as Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Superman and Jaws. These editions are the original orchestrations by the composer himself and are perfect for your next performance. Contact the Symphony Services Music Library today to find out how we can help you or view our catalogue online.

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Speed read: articles worth looking into

Norman Lebrecht still finds hope in What happens when the band stops playing?

Kathleen Noonan reminds us it isn’t just a business in The day the music died

Nicolai Ouroussoff reviews a new opera house in Guangzhou in Chinese Gem That Elevates Its Setting

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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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Symphony Services International