I managed to contact Alexander Briger the day before he flies to Melbourne for the final preparations with the Australian World Orchestra and their concerts in Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney.
Australian World Orchestra you may ask? It’s not a new idea, admits Briger, there are other orchestras based on a similar format. There’s Claudio Abbado’s Lucerne Festival Orchestra, which Briger much admires and there’s Ivan Fischer’s Budapest Festival Orchestra. But unlike the Australian version they’re made up of leading European players who do not have a country as a common denominator. The difference with The Australian World Orchestra is that 50% of the players are ex-pat Australians in top orchestral positions abroad and the rest command leading positions in Australian orchestras.
The germ of the idea came to Briger in 2006 while conducting the AWO’s Japanese equivalent in Tokyo; they comprised only Japanese players based in Japan. Briger’s brainchild was more ambitious. But how to do it? He contacted uncle (the late) Charles Mackerras who liked the idea and suggested they perform Beethoven’s 9th in their opening concert. First player to be sounded out was Nick Deutsch, oboe-player extraordinaire for the Leipzig Gewandhaus and other famous orchestras. He bubbled with enthusiasm; other ex-pats were approached and they all wanted to be part of it. Continue reading ALEXANDER BRIGER AND THE AUSTRALIAN WORLD ORCHESTRA