Skip to main content


Melbourne Symphony Orchestra
Vasily Petrenko conductor
Jack Schiller bassoon


Vaughan Williams The Wasps: Overture
Matthew Laing Of Paradise Lost, Bassoon Concerto (World premiere of an MSO Commission)
Elgar Symphony No.2

About this performance

Lauded Russian-British conductor Vasily Petrenko joins the MSO for this varied program inspired by English music and literature across the centuries.

  • Early 20th century English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams composed incidental music to Aristophanes’s ancient Greek Comedy The Wasps – an absurd story of an old man addicted to the law courts in a quirky satire of the Greek judicial system. Vaughan Williams’s overture evokes this zany humour, with buzzing insects and playful passages giving way to soaring pastoral melodies.
  • “Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven” is probably the most famous line from John Milton’s epic poem, Paradise Lost. It’s from this 1667 masterpiece that Australian composer Matthew Laing draws inspiration to depict the bassoon, performed by MSO Principal Bassoon Jack Schiller, as a poetic antihero of the orchestra: subjected to heaven; at peace in hell.
  • Elgar’s Second Symphony is what the composer himself described as the height of artistic achievement: an ‘absolute’ work – that is, a piece not based on a story or theme, but composed for the sake of music itself. Through passages of wistfulness, gusto, spookiness, and soft beauty, Vasily Petrenko, Gramophone’s 2017 Artist of the Year, brings energy and critical accolades to Elgar’s self-described ‘passionate pilgrimage’ of the soul.

Duration: approx. 110 minutes including interval

Cybec Logo

Matthew Laing’s work, Of Paradise Lost, Concerto for Bassoon was commissioned by the MSO during Matthew’s tenure as MSO’s 2021 Cybec Young Composer in Residence. The MSO’s Cybec Young Composer in Residence program is generously supported by The Cybec Foundation.

Enhance your experience

Want to learn more about the music being performed? Arrive early for an informative and entertaining pre-concert talk with composer and ABC Classic presenter Stéphanie Kabanyana-Kanyandekwe.

Thursday 14 July at 6.45pm
Friday 15 July at 6.45pm
Saturday 16 July at 1.15pm

Hamer Hall Stalls Foyer

COVIDSafe Information

The MSO and the venues in which we perform will operate under government health and safety guidelines in place at the time of the event. We recommend ticket holders follow the Victorian Government’s “How to stay safe & well” advice:

  • Stay home if you have any COVID-19 symptoms
  • Wash your hands
  • Keep your distance – stay 1.5 metres away from people you don’t live with where possible
  • Wear a face mask

Learn more about Arts Centre Melbourne's COVIDSafe and Wellbeing plan

Stay tuned. Sign up.