Australian Chamber Orchestra – Residency at the Barbican (UK/Australia Season) 27 – 29 October 2022

This event is part of the UK/Australia Season.

The UK/Australia Season is a major new cultural exchange celebrating the diverse and innovative artist communities and cultural sectors of each nation. A collaboration between the British Council and the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, The Season is a vibrant programme spanning theatre, film, visual arts, dance, design, architecture, music, literature, higher education and a public engagement programme.

Designed to strengthen and build cultural connections, the Season theme is “Who Are We Now?” and will reflect on our history, explore our current relationship, and imagine our future together. The Season launched in both countries in September 2021.


The Australian Chamber Orchestra (ACO) makes its anticipated return to the UK for a three-concert residency at the Barbican Centre in London.

Over three nights the ACO will perform three exhilarating concerts showcasing not only its world class musicianship and thrilling performance style, but also Richard Tognetti’s distinctive programming and artistry.

Barbican Residency Programme

Beethoven & Bridgetower Concert
Thursday 27 October, 7.30pm
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Revolutionary music at its most super-charged: the exhilarating Australian Chamber Orchestra celebrate the radical music of Beethoven, and the inspiration he’s sparked ever since.

Beethoven meets violinist George Bridgetower, ripping the classical sonata wide open in the iconic 9th Sonata, dedicated to Rodolphe Kreutzer. Then, inspired by Tolstoy’s novella of obsessive jealousy (inspired by Beethoven), Janáček pushes the string quartet to its limits in his own fraught Kreutzer. The ACO and their maverick music director Richard Tognetti expand both masterpieces for full orchestra before putting them under the microscope.

But first, regular ACO collaborator William Barton combines his spellbinding blend of vocals and virtuosic didgeridoo playing. The orchestra meet a kindred spirit in the form of Thomas Adès, whose evocative Shanty embraces the progressive spirit of the composers who inspire him. And in the midst are two more pioneers of their times: Ruth Crawford Seeger and George Walker.


River Concert
Friday 28 October, 7.30pm
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The Australian Chamber Orchestra provide live accompaniment to breath-taking footage of the world’s mighty rivers, in a profound meditation on how water has shaped our landscapes and human existence.

Our International Associate Ensemble at Milton Court and their Artistic Director Richard Tognetti never fail to bring us thought-provoking programmes. This mesmerising fusion of sound and cinematography was made for live performance, with music spanning from Vivaldi, Mahler and a new arrangement of J S Bach’s Chaconne, to Jonny Greenwood’s Water, and new music by Australian composer and musician William Barton.

Directed by BAFTA nominee Jennifer Peedom, River is the sequel to her and the ACO’s collaboration Mountain, which had its UK premiere here in 2018. With Robert MacFarlane’s reflective words narrated by Willem Dafoe, interrogate the relationship of humans with the world. Ask yourself: ‘Are we being good ancestors?’


Indies & Idols Concert
Saturday 29 October, 7.30pm
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Discover how the kaleidoscopic dissonances and pioneering textures of 20th-century Polish classical music inspired some of the boldest sounds in 21st-century culture, as the two worlds collide.

Richard Tognetti and his Australian Chamber Orchestra are joined by musicians from Guildhall School to bring music by pop-cultural icons Jonny Greenwood and Bryce Dessner face-to-face with the sounds of post-World War Two Poland – Szymanowski, Penderecki and Lutosławski – in an evening that’s been described as ‘a mind-bending, ear twisting, richly rewarding musical experience like few others’ (The Australian).

No music exists in a vacuum – so prepare for the worlds of neo-classicism, Polish folk and the avant garde to collide with contemporary cult classics in a dizzying, mesmerising and energising concert experience typical of our International Associate Ensemble.

About the Performers

The Australian Chamber Orchestra lives and breathes music, making waves around the world for its explosive performances and brave interpretations. Steeped in history but always looking to the future, ACO programs embrace celebrated classics alongside new commissions, and adventurous cross-artform collaborations.

Led by Artistic Director Richard Tognetti since 1990, the ACO performs more than 100 concerts each year. Whether performing in Manhattan, New York, or Wollongong, NSW, the ACO is unwavering in its commitment to creating transformative musical experiences.

The Orchestra regularly collaborates with artists and musicians who share its ideology: from Emmanuel Pahud, Steven Isserlis, Dawn Upshaw, Olli Mustonen, Brett Dean and Ivry Gitlis, to Neil Finn, Jonny Greenwood, Barry Humphries and Meow Meow; to visual artists and film makers such as Bill Henson, Shaun Tan, Jon Frank, and Jennifer Peedom, who have co-created unique, hybrid productions for which the ACO has become renowned.

Testament to its international reputation, the ACO undertook a three-year residency as International Associate Ensemble at Milton Court in partnership with London’s Barbican Centre from the 2018/19 season. This residency followed on from the success of ACO Artistic Director Richard Tognetti’s time as the Barbican’s first ever Artist-in-Residence at Milton Court Concert Hall.

In addition to its national and international touring schedule, the Orchestra has an active recording program across CD, vinyl and digital formats. Its recordings of Bach’s violin works won three consecutive ARIA Awards. Recent releases include Water | Night Music, the first Australian-produced classical vinyl for two decades, and the soundtracks to the acclaimed cinematic collaborations, Mountain and River.

In 2020 the ACO launched its inaugural digital subscription ‘ACO StudioCasts’, a critically acclaimed award-winning season of cinematic and immersive concert films.

Richard Tognetti is Artistic Director and Lead Violin of the Australian Chamber Orchestra. He has appeared as director or soloist with many of the world’s leading orchestras and was Artistic Director of Slovenia’s Festival Maribor from 2008 to 2015. He was the first Artist-in-Residence at the Barbican Centre’s Milton Court in 2016.

Richard is a composer, having curated and co-composed film scores including the ACO’s Mountain and River. He was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia in 2010 and was made a National Living Treasure in 1999.

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