Once in a while (more or less annually), Alexander Briger brings Australia’s orchestral musicians home from Europe, the United States, and other international and national playing fields for a cross between a concert, a jamboree, and a school reunion. It’s irresistible, and if there’s one thing that emerges from every AWO performance, it’s that pervasive sense of release and joy, always underpinned by dedicated and serious playing. There is never any sense of performance by rote, with heads buried in the music and let’s get this symphony done and dusted and go to the pub. Really, if you think about it, the Australian World Orchestra is a sort of upmarket jam session. Or, as Irving Berlin presciently had it:
Come on and hear, come on and hear, Alexander’s Ragtime Band.
Come on and hear, come on and hear ’bout the best band in the land.
They can play a bugle call like you never heard before;
So natural that you want to go to war.
Thank heavens, though, for peacetime.