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Viewpoint: Melbourne Chamber Orchestra

by Richard Jackson

Viewpoint: Melbourne Chamber Orchestra

When we finished our first orchestral project back on March 1, we really didn’t have the slightest inkling what was around the corner. Little did we know we would be spending the next months in a surreal suspended state, unravelling months of painstaking planning and trying to find a path through very uncertain times.

I don’t think there is a performance artist who is unaffected by this crisis. When I speak to our musicians, they seem to each be finding their own way through, but I don’t doubt for a second that for many, it’s really tough. It’s not just the loss of income, critical though that is, but the sense of purpose that artists find in their work.

So a real priority for us has been to find ways to keep some of the connection and keep some of the work. Naturally, that means digital streaming. We are incredibly lucky in Melbourne that Chris Howlett & Adele Schonhardt have started the Melbourne Digital Concert Hall. I am not aware of a similar, independent platform devoted to live chamber music anywhere else in the world, so it is really very special. We have already done a handful of concerts with MDCH and will be doing a residency over Winter.

I feel fortunate that chamber music is integral to our DNA as an orchestra. Although I’m itching to do orchestral concerts again, it’s smaller work, up to eight musicians, that is going to be possible, in the physical realm, for the near future. This work comes very naturally to us, and especially to our wonderful Artistic Director, William Hennessy. We are hoping to do our first live chamber music performance at the end of July, and some of our Melbourne Digital Concert Hall performances will allow small live audiences too.

We are watching the changing restrictions around gatherings very closely. I am hopeful once we can get 250 people into the Melbourne Recital Centre that there might be a way to have orchestral concerts again.


Richard Jackson combined expertise from a Masters of Marketing and intense musical training at Melbourne Conservatorium of Music and the Australian National Academy of Music to become Executive Director of Melbourne Chamber Orchestra in 2013.

Join musicians of Melbourne Chamber Orchestra and their guests online as MCO presents its Winter Residency on Australia’s leading online chamber music streaming platform, Melbourne Digital Concert Hall. MCO’s Winter Residency will include six fortnightly concerts beginning on Thursday June 18 at 8:30pm AEST, featuring MCO Principal musicians and its regular collaborators including pianists Louisa Breen, Stefan Cassomenos and Benjamin Martin. MCO’s Artistic Director, William Hennessy AM, leads three of the programs. Attend all 6 concerts for $110 plus a $20 booking fee.

Photo courtesy of Melbourne Digital Concert Hall

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