In 2014, The Woollahra Philharmonic Orchestra received the Highly Commended for Most Innovative Cultural/Arts Initiative award for our outstanding contribution to our community from Woollahra Council. This was a significant mile stone in the WPO’s history and it is one we continue to share with our families and friends who support us, encourage us and motivate us to strive for higher and higher standards; and we share it with our audience without whom, this would never be realised. .
History Of the Woollahra Philharmonic Orchestra
The Woollahra Philharmonic Orchestra is the premier community orchestra in Sydney's Eastern Suburbs. It was established in 1996 by local amateur musicians after receiving backing from Woollahra Municipal Council. With the continued support of the Woollahra Municipal Council, the orchestra has steadily grown in stature and now makes an important contribution to the cultural life of the Woollahra municipality and the wider eastern suburbs of Sydney. The orchestra comprises up to 50 regular members who come from all walks of life, are of all ages, and includes amateurs, students and professionals. Although we are a diverse group we all share a common goal of playing fine symphonic music in a friendly and encouraging environment. The orchestra performs four public concerts per year with a rehearsal period of around 8-10 weeks for each concert.
The orchestra's founding conductor and musical director for many years was Mathias Rogala-Koczorowski, a French horn player and brass teacher based at the Mitchell Conservatorium of Music in Bathurst. Following Mathias’ retirement in 2011, Dr Anthony Clarke was appointed as the WPO’s musical director and under his guidance the orchestra continued to expand its repertoire and outreach. As of 2016 the orchestra engaged several eminent guest conductors, including Brian Buggy OAM, Joanna Drimatis and Lee Bracegirdle, who was appointed chief conductor in 2018.
The WPO performs each program twice and reaches a wider demographic within the Woollahra community and beyond. The WPO also performs benefit concerts and chamber music programs, reaching outstanding levels of musical excellence, both in performance and programming. The orchestra aims at striking a balance between serious music-making on the one hand and creating an atmosphere where members can enjoy themselves on the other.
The orchestra is set up as an incorporated association under the Associations Incorporation Act 2009 (NSW). In addition to the generous funding from Woollahra Council, the orchestra relies on subscriptions from its members, donations from sponsors and concert takings for its running costs. We are proud to have as our patrons one of Australia's most well-regarded composers, Elena Katz-Chernin, and the distinguished pianist Rachel Valler OAM. Ms Kats-Chernin is a local resident and has been a great supporter of the orchestra. Ms Valler has also supported the orchestra for many years and played in numerous concerts as a soloist. Prior to appointing Ms Kats-Chernin and Ms Valler as patrons, Margaret Whitlam OA and Peter Sculthorpe were long standing patrons and passionate supporters of the orchestra.
The WPO is managed on a voluntary basis by a committee of orchestra members. The current orchestra committee comprises:
President: Martin Cohen
Secretary: Grace Mitchell
Treasurer: Karen Evans
Ordinary members: Judy Farr-Jones, David Loonam
Publicist: Geoff Sirmai
Woollahra Philharmonic Orchestra Incidentals Groups
Woollahra Philharmonic Orchestra also has number of smaller string and brass groups made up from the musicians of the WPO that are available for bookings.
Please contact us via the 'Contact Us' tab at the top of the website.
Woollahra Philharmonic Orchestra Mission
To bring musical enrichment to the community, providing a professional attitude towards innovative and enjoyable concerts