Fresh from a major tour with The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Chief Conductor Nicholas Milton led the Willoughby Symphony in a programme of romantic works this past weekend.

Featuring violinist Natsuko Yoshimoto as guest soloist, Love Stories showcased the full strength of the orchestra and choir with classic pieces such as Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet, Bruch’s Scottish Fantasy and Rachmaninoff’s The Bells.

Well known to Australian audiences through roles as leader of the Australian String Quartet and the Grainger Quartet, Natsuko has appeared with orchestras around the world including the London Symphony Orchestra, Halle Orchestra, Odense Symphony, Tokyo Symphony Orchestra, Hong Kong Sinfonietta and the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra.

“You can fuss over the notes and the detail at home. When you come here to play I demand that you work together and tell a story!”
– In rehearsal with Nicholas Milton.

These photos have been taken to help promote the Willoughby Symphony. Feel free to reuse, share and please reference me as your go :)

The nation is currently going through a review of the ‘Creative Australia – National Cultural Policy’. It’s high time community orchestras were assessed in a new light. These sorts of organisations give large numbers of artists the opportunity to perform, which is no small feat. Isn’t that exactly what we want to focus on when encouraging a more creative musical Australia? Year after year the Willoughby Symphony creates opportunities for artists to come together and develop. Classical music has a wide appeal. Young and old, WSO concerts gather a diverse audience – it’s not just old white people that come to these concerts.

The Willoughby Symphony is one of the best live and local accessible music acts in Sydney. With community spirit at its core this powerful collaborative brings a profound musical experience to urban Sydney. Classical music might not be your favourite flavour but it does have the ability to celebrate the arts in a broad way. The intrinsic value of the Willoughby Symphony is far reaching. This empowered artist lead local symphony is doing more than simply entertaining us.

The annual budget of the WSO and the choir is around $150,000. Because of the large-scale support the WSO was formally brought within the council structure in 1999, and is now regarded as a community service in much the same way as parks or child-care centres. The annual audience for the WSO and choir is around 10,000 people.

NSW has over $311 million dollars (your tax dollars) to spend on the arts, post a comment if you’d like to see Australian community orchestras receive a larger cut next year.