Australian Consulate-General


Australian Consulate-General, Guangzhou

Media Release     PD 11/09             Date: 13 July 2009

                                      SYDNEY SYMPHONY UNVEILS 2009 ASIA TOUR

Sunday 18 October – Tuesday 27 October

Beijing, Shanghai, Macao, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Kuala Lumpur

Under the direction of Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor Vladimir Ashkenazy, the Sydney Symphony is set to embark on a 10-day tour of Asia in October, taking in the cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Macao, Hong Kong, Guangzhou and Kuala Lumpur.

The tour marks the first time the Sydney Symphony has visited mainland China in its 77-year history. It will also be the first time the Orchestra has performed in Macao at the renowned Macao International Music Festival, while previous Sydney Symphony tours have included concerts in Hong Kong (1965 & 1974) and Kuala Lumpur (2000).

In mainland China, performances will include an appearance at the prestigious Beijing Music Festival, a performance at the Oriental Arts Centre in Shanghai, and a gala concert in Guangzhou as part of celebrations marking the 30-year anniversary of the sister-state relationship between New South Wales and the Chinese province of Guangdong, the first such twinning in modern-day China, giving it special significance and importance to the governments of both countries.

According to the Hon. Ian Macdonald, New South Wales Minister for State Development: “The New South Wales Government is an extremely proud supporter of the Sydney Symphony’s 2009 Asian tour. International touring by our major arts companies such as the Sydney Symphony provides an outstanding opportunity to showcase Australian excellence on the world stage. It also creates opportunities to develop closer commercial and cultural relationships – both diplomatic and corporate.”

Sydney Symphony Chairman John Conde AO said: “With an estimated 30 million piano students and 10 million violin students, China is widely considered to be the new frontier of classical music. As Australia’s premier Orchestra, the Sydney Symphony is delighted to be showcasing our artistic talents to the millions of classical music lovers throughout China and in Kuala Lumpur.

“The Sydney Symphony’s invitation to perform at the Beijing Music Festival and Macao International Music Festival is a significant recognition of the artistic calibre of the Orchestra and the in the region. This is an historic tour for the Sydney Symphony and there is no doubt that our concerts will be regarded as significant cultural events in each of the territories we visit.

“Mr Ashkenazy constantly refers to the Sydney Symphony as being on the same level as the leading London orchestras and a hidden treasure ‘down under’. We are thrilled to be able to demonstrate this artistic talent to the world and cement our place on the world stage,” said Conde.

The full-strength Sydney Symphony of 95 musicians will perform four different programs during the tour, featuring a number of works for which Ashkenazy and the Sydney Symphony have received widespread critical acclaim. Works by major Russian composers, Rachmaninoff and Prokofiev, will be complemented by performances of Elgar’s Enigma Variations.

Two international pianists will join the Orchestra on tour: 19-year-old Behzod Abduraimov from Uzbekistan, winner of the 2009 London International Piano Competition, performing Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No.1 and Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No.3, and 18-year-old Rachel Cheung who will perform Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No.2 in her native Hong Kong.

The Sydney Symphony’s 2009 Asia Tour has been made possible thanks to the support of government and corporate organisations: The NSW Government; The Federal Government through the Australia Council; Tianda Group, Principal Partner China; Felix Resources, Major Presenting Partner Asia Tour; Telstra and Xstrata Australia, Presenting Partners Asia Tour.

For more information, interviews and images, please contact:

Yvonne Zammit
Sydney Symphony
PR Manager
Phone: +61 2 8215 4612
Mobile: + 61 (0)410 761 578



Sunday 18 October BEIJING Forbidden City Concert Hall
Tuesday 20 October SHANGHAI Oriental Arts Centre
Thursday 22 October MACAO Macao Cultural Centre
Friday 23 October HONG KONG City Hall, Concert Hall
Saturday 24 October GUANGZHOU Xinghai Concert Hall
Monday 26 October KUALA LUMPUR Petronas Dewan Philharmonic Hall
Tuesday 27 October KUALA LUMPUR Petronas Dewan Philharmonic Hall


During the 2009 Asia Tour, the Sydney Symphony will perform major orchestral works by Rachmaninoff, Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev and Elgar.

RACHMANINOFF: Vocalise for orchestra
TCHAIKOVSKY: Piano Concerto No.1 (soloist: Behzod Abduraimov)
PROKOFIEV: Symphony No.5

RACHMANINOFF: Vocalise for orchestra
ELGAR: Enigma Variations (Variations on an Original Theme), Op.36
PROKOFIEV: Symphony No.5

RACHMANINOFF: Vocalise for orchestra
RACHMANINOFF: Piano Concerto No.2 (soloist: Rachel Cheung)
PROKOFIEV: Symphony No.5

PROKOFIEV: Classical Symphony, Op.25 (Symphony No.1)
TCHAIKVOSKY: Piano Concerto No.1 (soloist: Behzod Abduraimov)
ELGAR: Enigma Variations (Variations on an Original Theme), Op.36

PROKOFIEV: Classical Symphony, Op.25 (Symphony No.1)
PROKOFIEV: Piano Concerto No.3 (soloist: Behzod Abduraimov)
ELGAR: Enigma Variations (Variations on an Original Theme), Op.36

Founded in 1932, the Sydney Symphony has evolved into one of the world’s finest orchestras as Sydney has become one of the world’s great cities.

Resident at the iconic Sydney Opera House, where it gives more than 100 performances each year, the Sydney Symphony also performs concerts in a variety of venues around Sydney and regional New South Wales. International tours to Europe, Asia and the USA have earned the Orchestra world-wide recognition for artistic excellence.

The Sydney Symphony’s award-winning Education Program is central to the Orchestra’s commitment to the future of live symphonic music, developing audiences and engaging the participation of young people. The Sydney Symphony also maintains an active commissioning program and promotes the work of Australian composers through performances and recordings with recent premieres including major works by Ross Edwards, Liza Lim, Lee Bracegirdle and Georges Lentz.

The Orchestra records on various labels including ABC Classics, BIS, Octavia and its own Sydney Symphony Live label which includes discs of performances with Alexander Lazarev, Sir Charles Mackerras, Brett Dean and Vladimir Ashkenazy.

In 2009, Vladimir Ashkenazy begins his four-year tenure as Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor.

VLADIMIR ASHKENAZY, Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor, Sydney Symphony

In the years since Vladimir Ashkenazy first came to prominence on the world stage in the 1955 Chopin Competition in Warsaw, he has built an extraordinary career not only as one of the most renowned and revered pianists of our times, but as an inspiring artist whose creative life encompasses a vast range of activities.

Conducting has formed the largest part of his music-making for the past 20 years. He was Chief Conductor of the Czech Philharmonic from 1998 to 2003, and he was Music Director of the NHK Symphony Orchestra in Tokyo from 2004 to 2007. In 2009 he took up the position of Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor of the Sydney Symphony.

Alongside these roles, Vladimir Ashkenazy is also Conductor Laureate of the Philharmonia Orchestra and also holds the positions of Music Director of the European Union Youth Orchestra and Conductor Laureate of the Iceland Symphony Orchestra.

Vladimir Ashkenazy continues to devote himself to the piano, building his comprehensive recording catalogue with releases such as the 1999 Grammy award-winning Shostakovich Preludes and Fugues and Rautavaara’s Piano Concerto No.3 (which he commissioned).. His latest releases are recordings of Bach’s Wohltemperierte Klavier, Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations and a disc of rare Rachmaninoff chamber works on the Sydney Symphony Live label.