Women on the Podium returns with international mentors and a brand new format!

Perth Symphony’s conducting initiative, Women on the Podium, is back for its final instalment of 2020, bigger and better than ever. The program, historically run over one single weekend, will take place every Saturday throughout August, and sees five world-class conductors from the UK and Australia virtually joining as mentors to 11 participants.

CEO Bourby Webster described how she used coronavirus restrictions as inspiration to change the format of this session,

“Inspired by the world’s newfound comfort with online meeting programs, we saw a great opportunity here to access incredible world-class talent from the other side of the world, inviting the UKs leading female conductors to work with our Participants. This would have been thought impossible prior to COVID-19.”

“We wanted to offer each participant more podium time and experience despite being in lockdown, extending them further before orchestral rehearsals and concerts resume.”

It is planned for three Women on the Podium alumni to make their Perth Symphony debut in 2020.

The first four sessions will be hosted by acclaimed conductors from the UK including Alice Farnham (Founder, ‘Women Conductors’ program, Royal Philharmonic Society), Jessica Cottis (Artistic Advisor, Canberra Symphony Orchestra), Sian Edwards (Head of Conducting, Royal Academy of Music, English National Opera) and Jane Glover (Musical Director, Music of the Baroque).

The masterclasses will be run virtually, with a successful trial having been run in June with Alice Farnham, who reflected;

“Who would have thought when I left Perth on 6th April this year, that I’d be returning virtually so soon, in such different circumstances. This is a very exciting opportunity for us. The test masterclass was really exciting – not without the techniques teething problems one would expect, but rewarding nonetheless.”

The final session on Saturday 29th August will be hosted in person by Jessica Gethin (Inaugural Fellow of the Dallas Institute for Women Conductors, Women on the Podium Ambassador) – our very own world class conductor residing here in Western Australia.

The program finds a new home and will be hosted at Methodist Ladies College in Claremont.

Women on the Podium is made possible thanks to funding from the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries, The State of Western Australia, the Minderoo Foundation and generous donations from Perth Symphony’s Women’s Conductor’s Circle.

Farewell Jonty Coy!

This week, we’re saying goodbye to our Administration & Artistic Planning Assistant, Jonty!
After being granted a John Monash Foundation Scholarship he has an exciting journey ahead, studying a Masters in Early Music at the Royal Conservatoire of the Hague in the Netherlands.

Jonty has been with us over the past 2 years and has made a tremendous contribution to growing Perth Symphony.
Diligent and dedicated at work he still managed to get a chuckle from everyone around the office with his witty humour.

“He brought his remarkable knowledge of classical music and particularly contemporary classical music into our programs. The last Mozart by Candlelight concert where we commissioned Melbourne-based composer Joe Chindamo to write a new work for us was essentially programmed in its entirety by Jonty, with imagination, passion and a real empathy for what our musicians and audiences would want to hear. We shall miss him greatly but could not be more excited for his journey ahead.” – Bourby Webster

While we cherish the bubbling personality that he gives to the office, we are so proud of his achievements and wish him the very best in his future endeavours.


PODCAST: Music for Pasta and All Occasions with Silas Hite (LA)

Our latest podcast episode is ‘Music for Pasta and All Occasions’ with Emmy-winning film and television composer Silas Hite joining CEO Bourby Webster in conversation. Silas’ music features in our Music for Pasta playlist, currently available on Spotify, which is specially curated by the Perth Symphony staff and musicians, with additions and requests from the public welcomed. Read more about the playlists here.

Hear how a serendipitous meeting between Bourby & Silas came about some years ago, what it is like to soundtrack food and life in LA at the moment amidst the protests and unrest.

Listen on Spotify (below) or on your favourite podcasting app – simply search ‘Perth Symphony Orchestra.

The episode finishes on his ‘food symphony’ from the piece No More Doubt featured in the soundtrack to the Chef’s Table episode featuring n/naka and chef Niki Nakayama (S1 E04, available on Netflix), with a special mention to Ben Shewry of Attika Melbourne (S1 E05, available on Netflix).  Listen closely throughout the episode to hear music from Silas’ album ‘Sounds for a Dinner Party’ – which is especially on theme with our current ‘Music for Pasta’ interactive playlists.

Cover image by David Broach.

Equality, Diversity, Inclusion, Justice

In light of the unrest in the US over the last week, Perth Symphony Orchestra wishes to state that we are committed to equality, diversity, inclusion and justice. We pay our respects to the Whadjuk traditional owners of Perth, the land on which we are based, and to all First Nation peoples throughout Australia. We stand with you. We pledge our ongoing commitment to reconciliation and welcome artists and audiences of all backgrounds, all ethnicities, all orientations and world-views. We passionately oppose racism in any form. It will never be tolerated within our organisation and we continue to advocate for equality and show leadership in doing so.

We recognise the desire to achieve equality for all, and acknowledge the struggles faced by people of colour the world over. Unfortunately, there is still a long way to go for a fair and just society for all. Our mission is Music for Everyone, and by that we mean Every Single Person within our community. We aspire to bring all people together through music and remain committed to this goal with open hearts and minds.

The photo above was taken at our 2019 collaboration with Karla Hart and four Noongar families – WOWAK [breathe]. Find out more about this rewarding and touching performance here.
Photo from Rebecca Mansell and the 10 Nights in Port Fremantle Festival.

We say goodbye to Maurice Spillane, Founding Chairman

Earlier this week we received the devastating news that on Thursday 28th May, our Founding Chairman, Maurice Spillane, sadly passed away, losing a 6-month battle with cancer.

Maurice was the Chairman of Perth Symphony Orchestra from 2014 – 2018 and his love of the orchestra, its staff and musicians was unflinching. He was a close and dear friend to CEO Bourby Webster, providing support and mentorship long before Perth Symphony formed.

On hearing of his passing, Bourby shared;

“Maurice put people before business. To him, the music, the vision, the people would always be the most important thing.”

Maurice was one of the first people I met when I arrived in Perth 20 years ago and became almost like family to me. His unwavering support of me personally and determination to see PSO become sustainable is why we are here today.

We are the lucky ones as we had the privilege of knowing him and having his wisdom, loyalty, humour and warmth on a regular basis.”

Maurice was vibrant and full of life, a regular participant in the Rottnest Swim, always had a story to tell about recent kite surfing trips with friends. He was part of so many communities and clubs – from North Cott SLSC to the Twilight Sailing group at Freshwater Bay. He absolutely loved the water and could regularly be seen going for an early morning dip at Cottesloe beach.

From everyone here at Perth Symphony, Maurice, you will be terribly missed but never forgotten. Perth Symphony is indebted to you.

Reconciliation Action Plan

Perth Symphony Orchestra is writing its first Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) and has formed a working group to oversee the development and implementation. The first meeting of the Working Group takes place this week, coinciding nicely with National Reconciliation Week 2020.

The Working Group includes;

  • Phil Walley-Stack, Noongar singer-songwriter, speaker, dancer and author
  • Michelle Broun, cultural planner and producer, and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Curator at the WA Museum
  • Julian Donaldson representing the Perth Symphony Board of Directors, CEO of The National Trust of Western Australia and former General Manager of the Perth Festival
  • Bourby Webster, CEO Perth Symphony Orchestra, representing the Perth Symphony administration team
  • Bronwyn Ife, Education and Community Coordinator Perth Symphony Orchestra, representing the Perth Symphony administration team

We are honoured to be able to bring these brilliant minds together with their diverse experience and knowledge, to finding creative ways to ensure Perth Symphony has reconciliation underpinning all activities.

Other staff members and musicians will be invited to meetings on a rotating basis to offer insight and ideas around opportunities to integrate reconciliation activities seamlessly across the organisation. We are delighted to have staff across all departments on board and invested in making these changes happen, evident in the initial brainstorm and feedback sessions held with the team.

We are looking forward to seeing what the RAP Working Group achieve and again would like to thank them for their time and contribution.

Pictured above is Phil Walley-Stack, hosting a collaboration between Karla Hart (also pictured) and Perth Symphony Orchestra – WOWAK as part of the Fremantle Festival, 2019.

Farewell Tina!

Today we say goodbye to a very special team member, Tina.

Being the first General Manager at Perth Symphony and in this role over the past two years, she has been the go-to support system for everyone at the office!
Full of life and giggles, she’s always made working fun and comfortable.

Dedicated to her work, you’d only ever find her away from her desk for a quick cookie snack before she’d be back, head down working.

“She has worked tirelessly, and with a commitment that I know has been an inspiration to us all. Tina has taught me what hard work and commitment really means.”

– Bourby Webster, CEO

She’ll truly be missed and we’re wishing her all the best in her journey ahead!

Music for PASTA!

And we’re back with a delicious new playlist – Music for Pasta!

Music you love to listen to while you prepare, cook or eat pasta, favourites from your Italiano dinner party playlist to music you can imagine Italian composers writing while eating a carbonara. What do you think Vivaldi, Paganini, Scarlatti, Monteverdi, Puccini were eating while they composed some of their greatest works? What were they listening to and inspired by?

Discover new music across all the genres Perth Symphony performs and loves.

Look out for some special insights and stories into the music with CEO Bourby Webster on Facebook and Instagram, shared while cooking some of her favourite pasta dishes. You may not know but Bourby is an incredible cook and has a great passion of cooking.

Take a listen and follow the playlist here, and don’t forget to send us your favourites and requests via our Facebook or instagram.


New additions to the Perth Symphony Board

Perth Symphony Orchestra (PSO) is excited to announce and welcome Julian Donaldson and Dr. Ashley William Smith to the PSO Board of Directors.  While the current restrictions in Australia have put a halt to all performances and concerts, CEO and Founder Bourby Webster expressed that

“We could not be more delighted to have two incredibly experienced new board members with incredible experience of the arts: Julian as a senior Arts Administrator, and Ashley as a soloist and orchestral performer.”

Julian is the CEO of the National Trust of Western Australia and the former General Manager of the Perth International Arts Festival.  His vision saw the Festival grow and included one of the largest events ever to hit Perth – ‘The Giants’, an event still talked about today.

Acclaimed clarinettist Dr. Ashley William Smith has performed throughout Australia, the USA, Europe and Asia, and has won some of the nation’s most prestigious prizes and awards, a Churchill Fellowship.  A graduate of Yale University as well as UWA and ANAM, Ashely is now the Head of Winds and Contemporary Performance at UWA.  He was humbled to be invited to join the Board of Directors and added;

“Music should be part of everyone’s life, and I have always admired Perth Symphony’s commitment to developing new audiences for orchestral performance through its innovative programming and constant exploration of new modes of music presentation.”

“My aim is to offer insight from an artist’s perspective in PSO’s quest to redefine what a 21st century orchestra can be.”

You can hear Bourby in conversation with Ashley on the latest episode of Perth Symphony’s podcast series: Music on the Move, released on Friday 24th April (available on any podcast app including Spotify, search ‘Perth Symphony Orchestra’).

“Julian and Ashley both bring a wealth of experience and will provide a strong artistic presence on the board, to ensure we continue to deliver outstanding, high quality performances and experiences to the widest audience. I am very much looking forward to working with them.” Bourby concluded.

Find out more about Julian and Ashley here.

Support us this End of Financial Year, without spending a cent!


End of financial year is the time when we would normally be reaching out to you, our incredibly generous donors and supporters to ask for donations.

However this year, we are asking for your support, without the need to open your wallet or spend a penny.

We understand this is a challenging time for everyone – whether you are working in health services or have lost work – everyone is affected and we know you will all get through it.

This year, here are ways you can still support us without spending a cent!

  •   Like, comment, share our posts and stories
  •    Invite your friends to follow us on social media
  •   Sign up to our newsletter (promise we don’t spam you!)
  • Invite your friends to concerts and events IRL 😉 and through Facebook events
  • Tell ALL your friends about us
  • Show us how you listen by snapping yourself while you’re listening to our podcast or playlist and share to your insta stories
  • Connect us to potential corporate sponsors and partners

We hope that during this time we can help YOU by enriching your life with music, inspiration and most of all… fun!

However, for those who may be in a position to donate, we would be eternally grateful.
Every dollar goes a long way and helps us along our mission of bringing more music to more people across WA and beyond. Find out more here.

Thank you. Stay safe and keep washing those hands! 🎶👏