A live performance of any kind lives or dies on its energy. It matters, in many ways, less about what is being performed. A subdued audience can mean the difference between a knock-out and a slump. A mid-season lull can change what a piece says entirely. Energy, on stage and off, is everything. And energy was the first thing I noticed about this performance – the foyer was, clichéd as it sounds, abuzz. High school students and their teachers mingled amongst groups of professional musicians and arts administrators. Well-known faces were everywhere. Recent university grads gathered in circles to pour over the program. It was as if the Australian World Orchestra under the baton of Maestro Zubin Mehta were top-billed rockstars. As we took our seats, the audience was radiant with excitement. I peered around; here was a packed crowd, almost falling out of their seats in anticipation of Richard Strauss’s orchestral tone poems. What a gift this ensemble is, I thought, to give us such a sense of expectation mid-week in a Melbourne winter.

AWO Zubin Mehta