With a federal election in the offing, it is all too easy to make comparisons between a political party’s campaign launch and a ‘season opening gala’ such as this one for the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. Both are held a fair while after relevant activities have commenced, both provide for a gathering of faithful supporters, and both (you would expect) provide an opportunity for the delivering of a rousing manifesto of the organisation’s values and future agenda.

Lu Siqing, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Season Opening GalaMelbourne Symphony Orchestra Soloist in Residence Lu Siqing

While galas are a relatively recent addition to the orchestral marketeer’s box of tricks, they seem now to have become mandatory. Last year the orchestra marked the beginning, middle and end of its season with galas. This year there is another slated for July.

This gala certainly brought in the faithful, who gave a rousing reception to the music and musicians. Like all good launches, the audience was addressed by a party elder, in this case MSO board chairman, Michael Ullmer AO. After a minute’s silence for the victims of the Christchurch terrorist attack, Ullmer went on to note that this formal opening...