Classical music and arts magazine Limelight has rated Australia’s six State Symphony Orchestras, with a surprise result

The surprise result was that the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra didn’t make the top three in the country, with those places being taken by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra (1st), the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra (2nd) and the Queensland Symphony Orchestra. All orchestras were judged using a ‘blind’ listening test, the first of its kind to be undertaken in this country according to Limelight Magazine editor Francis Merson, who told Australian Hi-Fi Magazine that an anonymous panel of 15 expert critics and musicians from around the country took part in ranking the orchestra. ‘Limelight’s ranking, free of hometown loyalty and preconception, is the most accurate appraisal to date of how well our six State orchestras do their job of making music,’ said Merson. ‘I hope the results stand as a testament to the excellence not only of those at the top of the ranking, but to all the orchestras involved. Many judges remarked on the difficulty of finding points of difference between such superb ensembles… still, there was one very clear winner.' Limelight’s results showed that the Sydney Symphony lead the pack by the most significant margin in the entire survey, while the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra was consistently placed in the bottom half of the ranking by the panel’s judges.

In the test, each of the 15 judges was sent CDs labelled simply A to F, each with recordings of one of the orchestras. ‘All attempts were made to match repertoire between the orchestras, and to include a variety of styles, conductors and soloists in order to capture the range of each ensemble’s expressive power,’ said Merson. ‘Each judge was asked to review all the works performed by each orchestra and to provide an overall ranking of the orchestras from one to six.

The full results, including the panel’s comments on each orchestra, can be found in the April edition of Limelight Magazine.

For more information, contact Limelight Magazine