PSO Celebrates 30 years of music with anniversary gala concert

Penrith Symphony Orchestra celebrates its birthday with a special 30th anniversary gala concert on May 26.

An exhilarating program of festive and epic classics, alongside new works, will showcase the ensemble, conductor and soloist alike.

The vitality and charm of Strauss’s Emperor Waltz opens the program, followed by the premiere of new compositions by WSU students and the fireworks of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture. The evening’s performance culminates with the passion and excitement of Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 2, a work the orchestra performed at its very first concert in 1988. Internationally renowned Australian pianist, Michael Kieran Harvey, will join the orchestra to perform this majestic and much-loved work.

In the orchestra’s annals, its first president, Robert McCabe, records how “in 1987, a small group of people conceived the idea of forming a symphony orchestra…”

Initially the orchestra formed through the collaboration of a number of ensembles in the Penrith and Blue Mountains area, to present a bicentenary celebration concert in 1988. Penrith Council’s then plan to build a performing arts venue, The Joan, was a further catalyst to the realisation of the dream of a full scale symphony orchestra in western Sydney.

The growth and evolution of the ensemble over 30 years has seen a multitude of performers take to the stage.

Tradition and community are, however, still at the heart of the organisation, with many of the musicians long-term members of the orchestra.

Margaret Bournes, leader of the second violins, led the orchestra for its very first concert and is one of several members who have performed in PSO almost continuously throughout its 30-year history.

Artistic director and chief conductor, Paul Terracini, said: “It is a great thrill to be celebrating Penrith Symphony Orchestra’s 30th anniversary. From its beginnings in 1988, the orchestra has become a powerhouse provider of classical music in western Sydney.

“In recent years, apart from attracting some of Australia’s finest soloists and supporting young talent, it has presented large scale choral/orchestral works, children’s concerts, and led the way in bringing opera to local audiences. Through its collaboration with the Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre and the Australian Chamber Orchestra, the Penrith Youth Orchestra has been founded in this, PSO’s 30th year.

“There is much to be proud of, but more to do, in what will be a very exciting future”.

The gala concert will embrace new music, with premieres of two compositions by Western Sydney University students. Land, Sea, Sky by Christina Green, and Nieznana Podroz (Unknown Journey) by Chloe Hulewicz, were selected as recipients of a composition prize, jointly created for the occasion by PSO and the university.

Soloist Michael Kieran Harvey will also present an original composition, Homage to Liszt. Harvey is one of Australia’s finest pianists, equally at home performing the classics or premiering and commissioning new music from around the world. He first rose to prominence in 1993, as dual winner of the Grand Prix in the inaugural Ivo Pogorelich Piano Competition, USA (the world's richest at the time).

Harvey was awarded the 2009 APRA award for distinguished services to Australian music, and is also in demand as a composer and pedagogue.

Terracini conducts this performance, which begins at 8pm on Saturday, May 26, at the Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre, Penrith. There is also a free pre-concert talk by the conductor at 7.20pm. Book now at the box office of The Joan, online at, or call 02 4723 7600.

Tickets will be available at the door, but a full house is expected for this historic performance, so get your tickets now. Why miss any concerts? Subscribe and save, with three and four concert packages still available for the rest the 2018 season.