Since 1988, Penrith Symphony Orchestra has been a community orchestra of dedicated musicians, collaborating with distinguished conductors and talented soloists.
The orchestra is now recognised as one of Australia's leading community orchestras, and plays a major role in providing audiences in Western Sydney with accessible and affordable opportunities to enjoy live performances of a wide range of well-known and new orchestral repertoire.
Penrith Symphony Orchestra welcomes enquiries from experienced musicians interested in playing either regularly or on call as an occasional extra or substitute player.
Admission to the orchestra is subject to assessment by the relevant Section Leader and the Artistic Director.
History of the PSO
Penrith Symphony Orchestra first performed in 1988 as part of the Bicentennial celebrations, when an orchestra of 45 players conducted by Gerald Williams (Artistic Director 1988-97) performed Aaron Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man, Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with soloist Gabriella Pusner, and Alfred Hill's Symphony No. 2 (The Joy of Life) with a 65-voice choir comprising members of the Nepean Choral Society and the Warrimoo Chorale.
In 1989, the new orchestra’s concerts included the Elgar Cello Concerto with soloist Georg Pedersen, Brahms Symphony No. 2, the Mozart Requiem, Delius’s Sea Drift, and Borodin’s Polovtsian Dances with the Nepean Choral Society. In 1990, with the opening of the Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre, the Orchestra changed its name from the Western Philharmonic to the Penrith Symphony Orchestra. In 1990 the Orchestra performed Brahms's Ein Deutches Requiem and Handel's Messiah with the Nepean Choral Society, as well as presenting a Family Concert with Shane Porteus as the narrator for Peter and the Wolf.
Support from Penrith Panthers enabled the Penrith Symphony Orchestra to present its first subscription series in 1991. The Orchestra received funding support from Penrith City Council and from the NSW Government through the Ministry for the Arts, fostering its further development. The orchestra’s subscription concerts, held in the Richard Bonynge Concert Hall concert within Penrith's Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre (The Joan), draw large audiences, including a growing number of loyal subscribers. In recent years, the annual season has been further expanded with the addition of chamber opera productions presented in the Q Theatre, also within The Joan.
While based in Penrith, over the years the orchestra has also performed in locations including the Blue Mountains, Bathurst, Camden, the Hawkesbury, Parramatta and Sydney. Since 2004, the orchestra has regularly presented family-friendly performances, including popular Sunday morning children’s prom programs ("Pops for Tots"), performed in Penrith, Springwood and Richmond; afternoon family concerts; and more recently, children's concerts in the Q Theatre. Other community-oriented performances have included appearances in the Penrith Mayoral Musicale, an annual series of free concerts presented by Penrith City Council to showcase local talent; and charity performances for Anglicare in the Sydney Town Hall and the City Recital Hall, Angel Place.
From 1997 to 1999, noted English conductor Myer Fredman was PSO's Artistic Director. In 2000 the orchestra was honoured to receive the inaugural Community Orchestra of the Year Award from TOAN (The Orchestras of Australia Network) for its work in extending the public's perception of orchestras. Penrith City Council also received honourable mention in the awards for enlightened support for an orchestra. Henryk Pisarek became PSO's Artistic Director in 2002 and further recognition of the orchestra followed in 2003 when the he received a TOAN Award for services to Penrith Symphony Orchestra, Ku-ring-gai Philharmonic Orchestra and the East-West Orchestra.
PSO's current Artistic Director, Paul Terracini, was appointed in September 2009, effective from the 2010 concert season. Under his leadership, the Penrith Symphony Orchestra has continued to expand its scope and profile as a leading performing arts organisation in the cultural life of the growing Western Sydney region.
In recent years the orchestra has engaged in numerous performance collaborations, including with Pacific Opera for The Marriage of Figaro (Penrith and Parramatta, 2013), with Opera Australia for a gala concert with OA artists and community choirs (Parramatta Park, 2015), and with leading big band musicians for a concert at Fernhill Estate (2014).
In 2015, Penrith Symphony Orchestra formed a partnership with the Australian Chamber Orchestra and The Joan to establish the Penrith Strings program, a youth orchestral training program for mainly secondary-aged students in Western Sydney. This highly successful program is providing much-needed training and mentoring in orchestral string playing and is creating a pathway for young musicians leading towards performance opportunities with PSO and elsewhere.
Penrith Symphony is an incorporated, not-for-profit association. Its operations are overseen and managed by a voluntary board elected by members of the orchestra, with assistance from a part-time orchestra administrator.
Elected board members include player representatives as well as external members selected for their experience, expertise or connections in the arts sector, not-for-profit organisations and the community. The orchestra's artistic director and principal conductor is a member of the board, ex officio.
(* denotes PSO musician)
President: Dr Therese Underwood *
Treasurer: Mr David Cervi *
Secretary: Ms Anna Bray *
Dr Sandra Garrido *
Ms Nerida Hext *
Dr Helen Parsons
Dr Peter Shepherd
Ms Adele Weiss
Dr Paul Terracini (Artistic Director)
Penrith Symphony Orchestra
PO Box 659
Kingswood NSW 2747
Phone: 1300 789 118