April 1999 - Colin Hardcastle (violin) and Gareth Orley (trumpet) decided to start an orchestra of their own. They were fast outgrowing the youth orchestras at 22 and 20 years of age respectively. At the first rehearsal, the orchestra had 18 musicians.
The orchestra changed its name to the Brisbane Philharmonic Orchestra and gave its debut concert at the Gerhmann Theatre at Brisbane Girls Grammar School. The programme featured Capriccio Espagnol (Rimsky-Korsakov), Peer Gynt Suite No.1 (Grieg), Symphony No.8 (Dvorak) and was performed by 35 players.
Musical Director, Lee Norrell, left to pursue further studies. Andrew Bell successfully auditioned to become the Musical Director and held the position until 2002.
Current BPO Musical Director Philip Davis successfully auditioned and was welcomed to the role. Renowned violinist Melinda Stocker performed with the BPO and the orchestra debuted in the 4MBS Festival of Classics and during Cathedrals' Week. The BPO also accompanied the Queensland University Musical Society (QUMS) in a performance of Carl Orff's Carmina Burana for the Society's 90th birthday celebrations. The BPO had grown to 55 musicians by the end of 2002.
The BPO's first concert in 2003 was a Korean Cultural Exchange concert, where the orchestra performed concertos with traditional Korean instruments and classical concertos on piano and flute, as well as vocal arias. The BPO performed the Classical Top Ten at the 4MBS Festival of Classics. The orchestra followed this with its first self-produced concert at Brisbane City Hall which featured Beethoven’s Triple Concerto and Symphony No.4 by Tchaikovsky. The BPO now had 60 musicians.
The BPO began to demonstrate its true strength and capability with performances held at St John's Cathedral, QPAC Concert Hall, St Stephen's Cathedral, and Brisbane City Hall. BPO partnered with Queensland Wind and Brass for a fun performance which included highlights from Bizet's Carmen and Leopold Mozart's Toy Symphony at St John's Cathedral. In April, the Brisbane Philharmonic became the first community orchestra in more than 15 years to perform in the QPAC Concert Hall - more than 85 musicians performed in this concert.
The orchestra started the year performing the Violin Concerto by Sibelius and Symphony No.4 by Brahms with guest conductor Andrew Robinson and violinist Melinda Stocker at Brisbane City Hall. Composer Dr Eric Ewazen from the Juilliard School of Music in New York visited for the Australian premiere of his work Shadowcatcher, a concerto for brass quintet and orchestra. The BPO performed as part of the Queensland Music Festival's Opera at Jimbour to more than 6,000 people and covered by the ABC’s Landline program. The BPO combined with local actor Tama Matheson for Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf and the world concert premiere (orchestral version) of Brisbane composer Sean O'Boyle's Concerto for Didgeridoo with international Didgeridoo player William Barton. The BPO grew to 95 musicians to finish the concert with the epic Symphony No.1 Titan by Gustav Mahler.
The BPO expanded its year to include performances on the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast with the Best of British Proms with The Queensland Choir and Verdi’s Requiem with Noosa Chorale. In addition, there were performances at the Brisbane Powerhouse for the 4MBS Festival and Opera at Brookfield as part of the Brisbane Festival for 6000 audience-members. There were also performances at St Andrew’s Church, the City Tabernacle Baptist Church, and a memorable performance of Mozart’s Requiem at St John’s Cathedral with the touring Freiburg Cathedral Choir from Germany with the Brisbane Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra.
The BPO combined with Brisbane Chorale for momentous performances of Mendelssohn’s Elijah at Brisbane City Hall with nearly 200 performers on stage. The Orchestra also returned to Jimbour House for the immensely popular Opera at Jimbour as part of the Queensland Music Festival. This backed up to a performance of the Brahms Double Concerto in August with father and daughter duo, Markus and Melinda Stocker. The orchestra now had a regular membership of over 70 players.
Brisbane City Hall welcomed Brisbane’s leading community orchestra for four concerts. The orchestra performed to over 700 patrons for a Mother’s Day programme of Beethoven. Other highlights included the orchestra’s return to the QPAC Concert Hall, and memorable partnerships with 4MBS Classic FM for their annual Festival of Classics, and the Brisbane Festival for Opera at Brookfield.
The orchestra welcomed the Brisbane Airport Corporation as a major sponsor together with the generous support shown by the Brisbane City Council. The orchestra performed with eminent Australian violinist James Cuddeford with guest conductor John Curro AM MBE. The orchestra celebrated its tenth birthday with a performance of Dvorak's Eighth Symphony which featured in its very first concert programme.
Our annual Mother's Day performance was again a very successful addition to the 4MBS Festival of Classics. Regional performances took place to sellout crowds in Boonah and Blackbutt. The orchestra was again invited to be a part of the Queensland Music Festival and performed at Jimbour House with the Noonan family and friends. Sadly, after eight years of dedicated service to the orchestra, Philip Davis bid farewell to the BPO and announced his retirement at the conclusion of the season.
The BPO continued its close relationship with the Brisbane City Council and the Brisbane Airport Corporation. The orchestra welcomed Brisbane new-comer Warwick Potter as its new Musical Director. Due to the City Hall being closed for restoration, the orchestra moved its performance space to the Old Museum Concert Hall, Queensland's oldest and most grand concert hall.
The BPO's metropolitan concerts were a huge success, with a near sell-out crowd in attendance for our all-Tchaikovsky performance in September. Concerto soloists included BPO members Sarah Wagner (bassoon) and Jarrod Schindler (flute), as well as Christine Ferraro (voice), David Lale (cello), and Rebecca White (violin). Again, regional audiences thoroughly enjoyed our fun and entertaining touring performances.
Now an orchestra of over 80 members, the Brisbane Philharmonic Orchestra rejoiced in a season of excellent performances featuring the greatest compositions of all time - Mahler's First Symphony, Dvorak's New World Symphony, Shostakovich's Leningrad Symphony, as well as the most iconic symphonic works for cinema. The BPO welcomed six fantastic conductors to the podium, including John Curro AM MBE, Gwyn Roberts, Werner Andreas Albert, Warwick Potter, Sergei Korschmin, and David Law.
Guest soloists throughout the year included the inspiring Glenn Christensenn (violin), John Fisher (piano), Macarthur Clough (clarinet), and the orchestra's very own Robyn Gray (violin). The orchestra revelled in a massive performance of Carl Orff's "Carmina Burana" in conjunction with the Queensland Choir for over 8000 audience members during its fourth appearance in the Queensland Music Festival's "Opera at Jimbour".
The orchestra continued to perform in the Old Museum Concert Hall with the continuous support of the Brisbane City Council and the Brisbane Airport Corporation. The orchestra generously donated to the Lord Mayor's Community Trust for the third consecutive year. In November, we saw children attendances at our concerts explode as part of the Inspire! programme.