Maestro Zubin Mehta has been made a Companion of the Order Australia in a surprise ceremony which capped off a sumptuous performance of three tone poems by Richard Strauss with the Australian World Orchestra in the newly refurbished Concert Hall of the Sydney Opera House on Fridat night. Presenting the award was the Governor-General, His Excellency, General the Honourable David Hurley AC DSC.
After an overwhelming standing ovation and rapturous applause, the audience resumed their seats while a podium and the vice-regal insignia were placed on the stage. Artistic Director and Chief Conductor of the AWO, Alexander Briger AO, introduced Paul Singer, official secretary to the Governor-General who announced the presentation of the award for Maestro Mehta’s achievements in classical music, philanthropy, goodwill, education and Indian-Australian cultural relations.
It was an appropriate end to an unforgettable performance of the tone poems of Richard Strauss by the Australian World Orchestra, conducted by the legendary conductor who has been touring to Autralia since 1966. Performing Don Juan, Till Eulenspiegels Lustige Streiche (Till Eulenspeigel’s Merry Pranks) and, after the interval, Ein Heldenleben, the 100-strong orchestra was led by Rebecca Chan in the first two items and by Daniel Dodds in the second half, taking on the virtuosic violin solo. The orchestra included a galaxy of luminaries who perform with ensembles around the nation and with leading orchestras around the world.
The AWO with Maestro Mehta are fresh from triumphant performances at the Edinburgh Festival and the BBC Proms in London. For many of them, it is a chance to re-unite with friends and colleagues who work in cities from Sydney to Los Angeles and London to Singapore generating a warmth and camaraderie evidenced by the embraces and the affections that the musicians exchanged before the walked off the stage.
Shamistha de Soysa for SoundsLikeSydney©