A Wizard experiment in Oz

An orchestra in Australia is doing some interesting things in terms of trying to sell tickets: apparently they don’t:

[Orchestra Victoria’s] evolution has made it unique in Australia. It was established as a theatre orchestra by the Elizabethan Trust in 1969 but while its Sydney counterpart, the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra, spends all its time in the Opera House pit, the OV also presents free concerts to rural and regional Victorians, and a free metropolitan program too.

”Our attendances prove that people are keen to hear orchestral music if you take price out of the equation,” Chalabi says.

The scheme of free concerts supported by charities and philanthropic bodies was introduced in 2002. But the economic downturn has forced some changes to its program.

OV managing director Elizabeth Tupper says the crisis has reduced the returns on investments by trusts and charities that the orchestra relies on for its free program.

”We have to consider our future steps to stay ahead of the game,” she says. ”But it will be an evolution of what we currently do, rather than a revolution.”

Government support is vital because the musicians have no time to launch a concert season away from their support of Opera Australia, the Victorian Opera and the Australian Ballet.

”I want to raise the orchestra’s profile and rebrand our image,” she says. ”The orchestra is a hidden jewel in the state and we need a higher awareness to increase support”…

She acknowledges the impact of the financial crisis but seeks to increase the number of musicians slightly, and strengthen regional connections through digital broadcasts, perhaps with smaller groups on tour.

”There is a wonderful feeling of a real social occasion when we go to places like Bendigo and Shepparton and beyond.”

About the author

Robert Levine
Robert Levine

Robert Levine has been the Principal Violist of the Milwaukee Symphony since September 1987. Before coming to Milwaukee Mr. Levine had been a member of the Orford String Quartet, Quartet-in-Residence at the University of Toronto, with whom he toured extensively throughout Canada, the United States, and South America. Prior to joining the Orford Quartet, Mr. Levine had served as Principal Violist of The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra for six years. He has also performed with the San Francisco Symphony, the London Symphony of Canada, and the Oklahoma City Symphony, as well as serving as guest principal with the orchestras of Indianapolis and Hong Kong.

He has performed as soloist with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Oklahoma City Symphony, the London Symphony of Canada, the Midsummer Mozart Festival (San Francisco), and numerous community orchestras in Northern California and Minnesota. He has also been featured on American Public Radio's nationally broadcast show "St. Paul Sunday Morning" on several occasions.

Mr. Levine has been an active chamber musician, having performed at the Festival Rolandseck in Germany, the Grand Teton Music Festival, the Palm Beach Festival, the "Strings in the Mountains" Festival in Colorado, and numerous concerts in the Twin Cities and Milwaukee. He has also been active in the field of new music, having commissioned and premiered works for viola and orchestra from Minnesota composers Janika Vandervelde and Libby Larsen.

Mr. Levine was chairman of the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians from 1996 to 2002 and currently serves as President of the Milwaukee Musicians Association, Local 8 of the American Federation of Musicians, and as a member of the Board of Directors of the League of American Orchestras. He has written extensively about issues concerning orchestra musicians for publications of ICSOM, the AFM, the Symphony Orchestra Institute, and the League of American Orchestras.

Mr. Levine attended Stanford University and the Institute for Advanced Musical Studies in Switzerland. His primary teachers were Aaron Sten and Pamela Goldsmith. He also studied with Paul Doctor, Walter Trampler, Bruno Giuranna, and David Abel.

He lives with his wife Emily and his son Sam in Glendale.

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