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The Victoria State Opera Orchestra was a classic pick-up orchestra. Its beginnings can be seen in the orchestra list below for the Victorian Opera Company Orchestra from the late 60’s ( Dian Booth went on to be the leader of the Covent Garden Orchestra, Jo Beaumont from the VOC orchestra was leader in La Scala for many years, before returning to Melbourne to lead the MSO. Philip Green, Erik Klavins & Virginia Weekes all went on to professional careers, & are well known in music circles )

Once the Victoria Opera Company became the Victoria State Opera the Orchestra too was renamed and the ‘pickup’ nature of the orchestra was to continue:

The VSO always tried to schedule rehearsals and performances when the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra players were free. The regular concertmaster was Reg Larner, with his wife Vicki as leader of the 2nds. Henry Wenig was often the principal cellist. Occasionally Philip Green played. Numerous other players from the MSO regularly occupied both principal and rank and file positions.

Graham Cox, VSO music staff 1976 – 1986

The earliest known recording of the newly renamed VSO Orchestra is the 1976 Maria Stuarda with Nance Grant and June Bronhill

The recording can be purchased here

Some of the players came from the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and others were freelancers. The use of the Elizabethan Trust Orchestra came later (from the 1984 opening of the State Theatre?) which turned into the State Orchestra of Victoria, today known as Orchestra Victoria.

This arrangement though meant that the Trust Orchestra spent most of its time playing for the Australian Ballet, not only in Melbourne but also on tour. For the 1985 Lohengrin and the Trojans the MSO was in the pit.

The VSO was to enjoy a long and rewarding partnership with the State Orchestra of Victoria from then on until the merger with the Australian Opera in 1996.

Don Giovanni with the State Orchestra of Victoria 1986. Conducted by Richard Divall.

This recording of ‘Lohengrin’ and ‘The Trojans’ both conducted by Richard Divall, with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra are both commercially available from:

Lohengrin 1985

The Trojans 1985