CONOCOPHILLIPS SYMPHONY LICENSE TO THRILL
From their canny, genre-bending orchestral music, to their spectacular outdoor concerts, there’s something special about the Darwin Symphony Orchestra. OTL finds out what makes their metronome tick.
Known for their unconventional take on orchestral music – last year’s Rock Symphony, for example, included electric violin and cello as well as an on-bike cameo by Darwin’s Harley Owners Group – the Darwin Symphony Orchestra’s mission has always been very simple: bring music to the people. And they certainly deliver. Everything from Humpty Dumpty in the kids-focused Family Proms series, to Stravinsky with guest soloist Michael Kieran Harvey, and now with new concertmaster Tara Murphy on board, the ConocoPhillips Symphony License to Thrill, featuring music from 007 played with full orchestral force. “We play a huge diversity of musical styles,” says General Manager, Guy Ross. “Our indoor Wet season program is a classical and modern symphonic repertoire, but we also play opera, rock, musical theatre – we’ve done it all.” It’s a credit to the DSO that they’ve made orchestral music something anyone can enjoy and their knack for free outdoor concerts is very much in tune with the Territory’s lifestyle. “The DSO is renowned for its accessibility as an orchestra,” says Ross. “The way we do that is by really connecting with the people within the community.”
Perhaps most amazing, is that with the exception of some principal musicians, the orchestra is made up almost entirely of volunteers, the majority being non- professional musicians who give up to 250 hours of time per year to the DSO in rehearsal, performance and travel. According to viola player and DSO musician, Micha Jackson, one of the strengths of the DSO is that it’s made up of people from all types of careers. “There are certainly some professional musicians and a few that work in teaching,
but the majority of us are from totally different fields,” says Jackson who works for an Indigenous land management organisation. “We’ve got doctors, weathermen, bankers. It’s a good dynamic.” And it’s not just the orchestra that benefits, she says. “I think
it works both ways,” she says. “It’s a great opportunity to play an amazing repertoire at a really high level, alongside wonderful musicians from interstate and in venues you might never otherwise see the inside of.” This year the program has been, and continues to be, as ambitious as ever, with the Bond-inspired free outdoor concert the next big-ticket event on the DSO calendar. Chief conductor and Creative Director Leif Sundstrup knew he had to come up with something legendary enough to match last year’s Rock Symphony. “For those who went to the rock concert, you better not miss this one,” he says, adding that the film scores of 007 lend themselves brilliantly to an orchestral makeover. “Musically, 007 is huge,” he says. “It takes you all the way from rock charts across to classical music, and streams it all together in that 007 style”
With 5000 people expected at the Botanical Gardens Amphitheatre, the program boasts the very best of the music from Goldfinger to Diamonds Are Forever, plus vocals by locals Skye Mead, Ambrose Nicholls-Skene, Natalie Pellegrino and a performance by the Vox Crox Choir, plus narration by Richard ‘Margo’ Margetson telling the story of James Bond. “It’s the perfect opportunity for people who’ve never seen an orchestra to hear the incredible sound of a full symphony orchestra,” says Ross.
And where to next for the orchestra that’s done it all and has proved it can do anything? In true DSO style it’s really very simple. “We want everyone in the Territory to see the DSO,” concludes Ross, “and we want to the community to have an overwhelming sense of pride at what a spectacular orchestra they have.”
When: Fri Aug 3 | 6:30pm
Where: Botanical Gardens Amphitheatre