A symphony of sisters

• Odette Mercy, Rose Parker and Sophie Foster. Photo supplied

THE Perth Symphony Orchestra is set to break records in an all-female show at the Astor Theatre next month.

Girls Night Out will feature the orchestra and guest singers belting out modern classics by Beyoncé, Tina Turner, Madonna, Adele, Aretha Franklin, Nina Simone and Dolly Parton.

It could be the first time an all-female orchestra has played in Perth, and all the arrangements have been written by local women.

“Literally this is an all-women show–from the performers to the stage manager, to the ushers and marketing,” says PSO founder Bourby Webster.


The PSO rarely plays symphonies, especially in traditional concert hall venues, and is always challenging the notion of what an orchestra should play and how it should perform.

“We rarely stick to the rules of how concerts are presented,” Webster says.

Women rarely featured in symphony orchestras until the 1960s and the world’s biggest – the Vienna and Berlin symphony orchestras – didn’t have female players until the 1990s, Webster says.

PSO set about righting the balance and all its top brass are women, including the chief conductor, and 64 per cent of the orchestra and 85 per cent of the administration.

Webster’s efforts to change the culture of the PSO were acknowledged when she was nominated for the 2019 Telstra Business Woman of the Year.

PSO has been quietly wowing audiences for seven years, but things changed with the MeToo movement.

“We have never shouted about the PSO, but with MeToo we have to shout as we have something to celebrate, something to sing about,” says Webster.

Joining renowned conductor Jessica Gethin in Girls Night Out are the incredible voices of Rose Parker and Sophie Foster.

Other guest singers include the outrageous Lucy Peach, Odette Mercy (The Soul Atomics), Alana Fay, Chelsea Cullen and Mia Matthiessen.

Girls Night Out is on Thursday May 30 and Friday 31. Tickets at perthsymphony.com


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