With a reputation for vitality and versatility, the much loved Adelaide Symphony Orchestra is South Australia’s largest performing arts organisation, established in 1936.
For 85 years, the ASO has been there to corroborate life and contribute to South Australia’s identity. Today the ASO plays a major role in Adelaide’s cultural and economic vibrancy, and enriches the community through a diverse program of world-class performances to more than 100,000 concertgoers each season.
Each year it extends its audience beyond the concert halls through its community concerts and regional activity together with regular broadcasts on ABC Classics. Additionally the ASO’s comprehensive Learning Series for schools and families directly touches the lives of more than 16,000 children, thereby forging a special connection to music from a young age. In 1998 and 2004 the ASO came to the attention of the international community with its exemplary playing of Wagner’s Ring Cycle.
Delivering diverse and colourful programming with leading international and Australian musicians, it has also enjoyed hugely successful performances with artists such as Ben Folds, Tim Minchin and The Hilltop Hoods. And in 2015, the ASO and The Hilltop Hoods reprised their collaboration to record Drinking From The Sun, Walking Under Stars Restrung. In the spirit of innovation, the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra frequently showcases new music and Australian premieres. The ASO has embarked on numerous international tours, including China, Korea, Singapore and Carnegie Hall in New York, and plays a vital role in the Adelaide Festival of Arts, Adelaide Cabaret Festival, OzAsia Festival, WOMADelaide, State Opera of South Australia and The Australian Ballet.
The Adelaide Symphony Orchestra was founded as a 15 player radio ensemble and performed its first series of public concerts in 1936. Mr William Cade, an Adelaide born musician who had worked in London with Sir Thomas Beecham, was the orchestra’s first conductor.
The orchestra reformed in 1949 as the 55 member South Australian Symphony Orchestra with the legendary Professor Henry Krips as resident conductor. The orchestra reverted to its original and present title, the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra in 1975.
It is the largest performing arts organisation in South Australia and each year, performs over 100 concerts across a diverse musical spectrum. The ASO also provides the orchestral support for the State Opera of South Australia and The Australian Ballet and, and is a prolific contributor to the Adelaide Festival.
Following its groundbreaking 1996 tour to China, the ASO won world acclaim in 1998 with the State Opera of South Australia’s production of Wagner’s Ring Cycle. This monumental project was repeated in 2004 with the first all-Australian production. In 2009, the ASO performed at Carnegie Hall, New York as part of the annual G’Day USA celebrations.
The Orchestra is acknowledged and critically acclaimed for its recordings and its ongoing commitment to Australian composers and has released recordings on ABC Classics, Melba and Opus Arte.
The ASO made history as the first Australian orchestra to record and release the entire Sibelius Symphony Cycle. The Orchestra’s Mahler Symphony Cycle (2006 – 2013) under Maestro Volmer was the first of its kind for South Australia and resulted in a record breaking performance of Mahler’s symphony No 8, as part of the 2010 Adelaide Festival.
To find out more about our heritage, visit the ASO Heritage website.