The Australian Brandenburg Orchestra is Australia’s finest period instrument orchestra, made up of leading specialists in the performance of baroque and classical music. The Orchestra is committed to energetic and lively programming, combining popular baroque and classical favourites with première Australian performances of seldom heard masterpieces.
The musicians play from original edition scores and on instruments of the period. These have been restored or faithfully reproduced to recreate an eighteenth century orchestral sound and differ significantly from their modern equivalents – softer and more articulated with an often raw and earthy timbre.
The Orchestra’s name pays tribute to the Brandenburg Concertos of JS Bach, whose musical genius was central to the baroque and classical periods.
Flying home from Europe in 1989, Artistic Director Paul Dyer had the bold vision of forming Australia’s first period instrument orchestra. Paul brought together a team of hand picked musicians for debut performances at the Sydney Opera House for its 1990 Mostly Mozart Festival. The success of those first concerts rings true to this day – the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra combines historical integrity with a distinctly fresh Australian style.
Since the beginning, the Orchestra has been popular with both audiences and critics. In 1998 The Age proclaimed the Orchestra had ‘reached the ranks of the world’s best period instrument orchestras’. In 2001 The Guardian exclaimed the Orchestra’s sold-out London Proms performance at the Royal Albert Hall as ‘an event that just seemed to stop the audience in its tracks – and had everyone roaring for more. The whole concert was just bliss, every single stupendous second of it.’ And recently the Sydney Morning Herald described the Orchestra as ‘decidedly rapturous and deserving of every bit of the footstamping, cheering ovation’.
The Australian Brandenburg Orchestra makes regular appearances in the major concert halls and historic cultural venues of Australia, and has performed with guest artists such as Andreas Scholl, Emma Kirkby, Andreas Staier, Cyndia Sieden, Marc Destrubé, Elizabeth Wallfisch, Hidemi Suzuki, Derek Lee Ragin and Andrew Manze.
The Orchestra has appeared at both Sydney and Melbourne Festivals, performed Monteverdi’s I with Opera Australia in 1993, and from 1994 established a sell-out annual series of ‘salon style’ concerts at the Art Gallery of NSW.
In March 1998 the Orchestra made its Tokyo debut with countertenor Derek Lee Ragin. Moving from strength to strength, the Orchestra accompanied ‘the world’s leading countertenor of our time’, Andreas Scholl, in a concert tour to Europe in August 2001, finishing at the London Proms.
The year 2000 brought two major developments: the use of the newly built City Recital Hall Angel Place as the Orchestra’s major concert venue and the highly successful launch of the Orchestra’s first subscription season. Since then the Orchestra has developed into a significant player in the Australian music scene and was admitted into the Major Performing Arts Group of the Australia Council in 2003.