Sir Simon becomes the AWO’s latest big-hitter, and this time he’s bringing the wife!

Sir Simon Rattle, Chief Conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, will be the latest high-profile conductor to lead the Australian World Orchestra in a series of concerts in Sydney and Melbourne this July and August. Sir Simon, last seen down under when he lead the BPO on their tour in 2010, was widely reported to have liked what he saw of the country and keenly anticipated returning. The good news is that 2015 will not only see him conduct the ‘super-group’ orchestra, but also Australians will get the chance to hear his wife, mezzo-soprano Magdalena Kožená, who will appear as guest performer.

“The world has heard how fantastic the AWO is and there’s huge competition to be involved,” said Sir Simon. “Magdalena and I are thrilled to be coming to Australia and we can’t wait to work with this great orchestra.”

Australian World Orchestra

The three scheduled performances at the Sydney Opera House and Melbourne’s Hamer Hall will see Sir Simon conduct Debussy’s impressionist masterpiece Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune as well as Bruckner’s epic Eighth Symphony (considered by many the Austrian composer’s finest work). Magdalena Kožená will sing a world premiere – an arrangement of Debussy’s exquisite Ariettes oubliées (Forgotten Songs), which has been especially orchestrated by Australian composer, Brett Dean. Dean, for many years Principal Viola with the BPO, is a long term collaborator with Rattle.

The AWO was founded in 2011 thanks to the vision of Australian conductor Alexander Briger and since then has performed biennially, establishing itself as one of the world’s premier orchestras. The orchestra brings together the very finest Australian musicians from around the world to perform on their home turf. The 2015 season will see 95 musicians from over 30 cities – all members of the world’s leading orchestras and ensembles, from the Berlin and Vienna Philharmonic Orchestras to the Concertgebouw, London and Chicago Symphony Orchestras, as well as Australia’s own state orchestras.

Last seen in 2013, the AWO were conducted then by the legendary Zubin Mehta in a series of concerts which Limelight described as “The concert of the year … in a word matchless”. “The Australian World Orchestra brings together some of the finest musicians I have had the pleasure to make music with,” said Mehta. “I adored conducting them last year.” That enthusiasm clearly rubbed off on Sir Simon Rattle who told Limelight earlier in the year that Mehta couldn’t stop talking about just how good the orchestra was. It clearly didn’t take too much persuasion to get him to sign up for their third concert series.

Rattle has been Music Director of the Berlin Philharmonic since 2002 and is one of the classical music world’s most influential figures. His wife, Czech mezzo-soprano Magdalena Kožená is one of the most outstanding singers of her generation with an impressive discography on Deutsche Grammophon. Both artists should expect to be welcomed with open arms. And the feeling’s clearly mutual – Rattle gave Limelight an interview a few months ago and signed off with an enthusiastic: “Give my love to that wonderful country of yours – we can’t wait to be there next summer”.

Sir Simon Rattle conducts the AWO at Sydney Opera House on July 29 and 30 and then at Melbourne’s Hamer Hall on August 1. For tickets please visit the AWO website.

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