Briger Conducts Janáček and Brahms

Sunday 24 March


Verbrugghen Hall, Sydney Conservatorium of Music

The Sydney Youth Orchestra

Alexander Briger AO, Conductor

SYO Philharmonic

Brian Buggy OAM, Conductor

To say that SYO Chief Conductor Alexander Briger has the music of Leoš Janáček in his DNA isn’t too fanciful. Alex’s uncle (and mentor) the late Sir Charles Mackerras did more than anyone else to bring the early twentieth-century Czech master’s operatic masterworks to the rest of the world.

What is something of a family legacy will be on display in the Sydney Youth Orchestra’s 2019 season opening concert, when Janáček’s orchestral rhapsody Taras Bulba floods the Verbrugghen Hall with sound, helped by the venue’s impressive pipe organ.

‘If ever music was a direct reflection of the rhythms and modulations of its composer’s native language, it has to be Janácek’s,’ says Briger. ‘His sound world is unique; his corpus of work a tribute to the benefit of being a late bloomer. Although its premiere took place just before his seventieth birthday in 1924, Taras Bulba is Janáček’s first really significant orchestral piece, something I find amazing. It’ll be poignant to hear music from a career golden summer played by young musicians on the threshold of their own golden careers.’

Not that this sounds at all like an ‘old’ piece. Based on the Gogol tale of a short-lived Cossack dynasty in the sixteenth century, the music blazes with passion as the patriarch’s two sons and then Taras himself all meet a violent demise – in Taras’ case, burned at the stake, the music rising up at the work’s end with bells and blazing organ chords.

The rest of a powerhouse program is almost a declaration of war. The sweep of Brahms’ Third Symphony – deemed by the ruthlessly self-critical composer to be ‘nearly perfect’ – so enraged the fans of Brahms’ supposed enemy Richard Wagner at the work’s premiere in 1883 that members of the opposing factions challenged each other to duels. More duels and revenge stabbings take out most of the main characters in Verdi’s opera The Force of Destiny, whose tumultuous Overture will be played in this concert by the SYO Philharmonic with conductor Brian Buggy.

This is a take-no-prisoners program of big sounds and big emotions: classical music designed to stir the soul and placate no-one. Perfect for a stellar youth orchestra, in other words.

Additional Information:

Young children are welcome at Sydney Youth Orchestra concerts. For all performances, children two years of age or older must have a ticket (even if the accompanying adult intends to sit the child on his/her knees).

This concert is General Admission.

Doors will open 15 minutes prior to the start of the event.

Please bring your ticket to display at the door and gain entry to the venue.


Sun, 24th March 20192:00PM

Sun, 12th May 20199:30 & 11:00

Sun, 16th June 20192:00PM

Sat, 22nd June 2019

Sun, 7th July 20192:00PM

Sat, 14th September 201910:00AM

Fri, 20th September 20198:00PM

Sat, 30th November 20192:00PM

Sat, 7th December 2019

Sun, 8th December 20192:00PM