A new chapter begins for the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra when 63 of its musicians and staff leave on 4 April for a week-long residency in Shanghai. They kick off with a concert of their own four nights later, but most interesting – and possibly unique – will be a landmark concert in which they share the stage with the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra on 9 April. On the program will be Berlioz, Beethoven and Holst’s The Planets.
We await with interest how it goes. MSO’s residency heralds a new three-year partnership between the two orchestras “which will see co-commissioning and performances of works by Chinese and Australian composers, and collaborative musician and staff exchanges,” says a MSO press release.
On board the plane to Shanghai will also be Sophie Galaise. For those who might have missed the news, this Canadian-born orchestral executive was recently appointed the MSO’s new Managing Director, and she comes to her new role with a stellar reputation. Previously, as the Queensland Symphony Orchestra’s CEO from 2013, she dramatically turned around that orchestra’s fortunes, substantially lifting its revenue and growing its reach to “more than 1.1 million”.
Prior to that Galaise brought the Quebec Symphony Orchestra back to operating surplus when she presided over that orchestra in 2007-2012. No doubt the MSO will be hoping she can repeat her Midas touch in her new role. Its chairman, Michael Ullmer, announced in January: “We are delighted to welcome Sophie to the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra after an international search for the right candidate to lead the organisation”. The orchestra has gone through a quick succession of managers in the last six years: its previous MD, Canadian compatriot André Gremillet, moved on last year to run one of the world’s most famous orchestras, the Cleveland Orchestra.
Meanwhile, the QSO has named Rodney Phillips as its Interim Chief Executive. An experienced arts manager whose career includes running the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, he will head up the QSO from 4 April “while the international search for a new Chief Executive continues,” says a QSO press release.