Review: Sydney Symphony’s inaugural performance in renovated Sydney Opera House Concert Hall

Posted on: July 25, 2022

“Complaining about the acoustics in the Sydney Opera House Concert Hall has been a virtual blood sport for Sydney concertgoers for the past five decades,” writes Murray Black in Friday’s (7/22) Australian. “The Concert Hall has undergone a refurbishment lasting more than two years. It reopened on Wednesday night with [Simone] Young conducting the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, and the acoustics have been transformed. Wave-like contoured sound diffusion panels now enclose the auditorium, and magenta-tinged acoustic ‘petals’ hover above the stage…. On stage, the orchestra was seated on semicircular risers. The result was a newfound sonic clarity and warmth.… The SSO’s return to its true home … also marked Young’s first performance as the orchestra’s new chief conductor.… [In] Mahler’s second symphony (Resurrection) … Young’s and the SSO’s magnificent account captured both the vast emotional range and intricate musical complexities of this gigantic symphonic fresco…. Although Mahler’s mighty symphony dominated the program, Australian composer and didgeridoo virtuoso William Barton’s new work, Of the Earth, sounded the first musical notes in the reworked hall…. The performers’ nuanced dynamics, subtly shifting textures and incisive rhythms revealed an intriguing, sophisticated soundscape, thrillingly enlivened by the use of clapsticks fashioned from some of the Opera House’s discarded timbers.”