Friday 24 & Saturday 25 May 2024, 7.30pm | Sunday 26 May 2024, 5.00pm

Perth Concert Hall & Mandurah Performing Arts Centre

WASO Banner Image

West Australian Symphony Orchestra respectfully acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and Elders of Country throughout Western Australia, and the Whadjuk and Bindjareb people of the Noongar Nation on whose lands we work and share music.

How to use your Digital Program


Mel BONIS Trois femmes de légende
Suite (18 mins)

I. Ophélie
II. Salomé
III. Le songe de Cléopâtre

Johann HUMMEL Trumpet Concerto
(19 mins)

I. Allegro con spirito
II. Andante –
III. Rondo

Interval (25 mins)

(47 mins)

I. Largo e maestoso – Lento – Allegro non
troppo (The Sea and Sinbad’s Ship)
II. Lento (The Story of the Kalandar Prince)
III. Andantino quasi allegretto (The Young
Prince and the Young Princess)
IV. Allegro molto – Vivo – Allegro non
troppo e maestoso – Lento (Festival at
Baghdad – The Sea – The Ship Goes to
Pieces on a Rock Surmounted by a Bronze Warrior – Conclusion)

Jen Winley conductor
Jenna Smith

Wesfarmers Arts Pre-concert Talk
(Friday, Saturday and Sunday)
Find out more about the music in the concert with this week’s speaker, Alan Tyrrell. The Pre-concert Talk will take place at 6.45pm at the Terrace Level Corner Stage, Perth Concert Hall on Friday and Saturday, and at 4.20pm in the Foyer, Mandurah Performing Arts Centre on Sunday.

Wesfarmers Arts Post-concert Talk
(Saturday only)
Join tonight’s conductor, Jen Winley and soloist, Jenna Smith for a postconcert interview immediately following the Saturday evening performance in the Terrace Level Foyer. Uncover more about the music and hear insights into the performance experience.

Listen to WASO
This performance is recorded for broadcast Sunday 23 June, 1pm (AWST) on ABC Classic. Date subject to change. For further details visit

Did you know?

Mel Bonis was a prolific composer, composing around two hundred works during her life.

Born Mélanie-Hélène Bonis, she used the name 'Mel' so as not to be recognised as a female composer.

Anton Weidinger invented the keyed trumpet by drilling holes in the bell of the instrument. This new trumpet could play chromatically in the lower notes of the register. Hummel's Concerto is the second piece ever written specifically for the keyed trumpet.

Scheherazade was inspired by the collection of largely Middle Eastern and Indian tales known as The Thousand and One Nights (or The Arabian Nights).

Scheherazade was completed in 1888, and it premiered on November 3 of that year, in Saint Petersburg, with the composer himself conducting.

Scheherazade is a popular music choice for competitive figure skating. Various cuts, mainly from the first movement, were widely used by skaters.

WASO On Stage

About the Artists

About the Artists

This is WASO | Jenna Smith

About the Music

About the Music

About the Music

WASO Image

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov

Scheherazade – Symphonic Suite, Op.35

I. Largo e maestoso – Lento – Allegro non troppo (The Sea and Sinbad’s Ship)
II. Lento (The Story of the Kalandar Prince)
III. Andantino quasi allegretto (The Young Prince and the Young Princess)
IV. Allegro molto – Vivo – Allegro non troppo e maestoso – Lento (Festival at Baghdad – The Sea – The Ship Goes to Pieces on a Rock Surmounted by a Bronze Warrior – Conclusion)

The Sultan Shahryar, convinced of the duplicity and infidelity of all women, had vowed to slay each of his wives after the first night. The Sultana Scheherazade, however, saved her life by the expedient of recounting to the Sultan a succession of tales over a period of a thousand and one nights. Overcome by curiosity, the Sultan postponed from day to day the execution of his wife, and ended by renouncing altogether his sanguinary resolution.

We think we know the story of Scheherazade, Persian queen and fabled storyteller of The Thousand and One Nights. Some of her stories (and a few that were invented for her by Europeans) have become part of popular culture: Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, Aladdin (an 18thcentury French addition), and one you’ll recognise from the movement titles for Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade: Sinbad the Sailor.

Strictly speaking, orchestras shouldn’t publish those titles; the composer withdrew them with so as not to constrain his listeners’ imaginations. Rimsky-Korsakov had taken the idea of Scheherazade and the Arabian Nights as his starting point, and the narrative titles he’d devised in the winter of 1887–88 were intended to suggest particular characters – the story of a kalandar or “beggar” prince, for example. But the end result, he said, was a “kaleidoscope of fairytale images and designs of Eastern character”, more concerned with the connotations of the East it brings to mind than with literal storytelling.

He believed it was futile to seek in Scheherazade leading motifs that could be consistently linked to particular characters or events. The motifs we recognise were “nothing but purely musical material … for symphonic development” and a means of creating unity between the four movements, and on each appearance they are presented in different musical guises so that the “themes correspond each time to different images, actions and pictures”.

“All I had desired,” he later wrote in My Musical Life, “was that the hearer, if he liked my piece as symphonic music, should carry away the impression that it is beyond doubt an Eastern narrative describing a motley succession of fantastic happenings,” and not merely four pieces based on common themes.

The ominous pounding melody representing the stern Sultan in the opening, for example, appears in the tale of the Kalandar Prince, although Shahryar plays no part in that narrative. And the muted fanfare of the second movement returns in the otherwise unconnected depiction of the foundering ship. Rimsky-Korsakov also cites the appearance of both the Kalandar Prince’s theme and the theme of the Young Princess in the Baghdad festival although “nothing is said about these persons taking part in the festivities”.

But Rimsky-Korsakov did admit that one of his motifs was quite specific, attached not to any of the stories, but to the storyteller who provides the frame story of The Arabian Nights: “The unifying thread consisted of the brief introductions to the first, second and fourth movements and the intermezzo in movement three, written for violin solo and delineating Scheherazade herself as telling her wondrous tales to the stern Sultan.”

It is this idea – an intricately winding violin theme supported only by the harp – which soothes the thunderous opening and embarks upon the first tale: the sea and Sinbad’s ship. For Rimsky-Korsakov, who was synæsthesic, the choice of E major for the billowing cello figures was surely no accident: his ears “saw” this key as dark blue. But you don’t have to be synæsthesic to experience the marvellous colours of Rimsky-Korsakov’s orchestral writing. So formidable is his instinct that Rimsky- Korsakov can convince his listeners of the raging of a storm at sea, the exuberance of a festival and the exotic colours of the East.

A cajoling melody played by solo bassoon represents a Kalandar (or ‘beggar’) Prince in the second movement. (Rimsky-Korsakov, perhaps deliberately, neglects to tell us which of the beggar princes in The Arabian Nights he had in mind.) The dramatic middle section features muted fanfares, based on the Sultan’s theme. The third movement opens with a sinuous violin melody – it’s easy to imagine Scheherazade telling this story in her own voice. The similarity between the two main themes of the third movement (for violin and then flute and clarinet) suggests that the Young Prince and Princess are perfectly matched in temperament and character.

An agitated transformation of the Sultan’s theme, in dialogue with Scheherazade’s theme, prefaces the final tale. The fourth movement combines the Festival in Baghdad and the tale of the shipwreck in music that’s both splendid and terrifying. Triangle and tambourines accompany the lively cross-rhythms of the carnival; and the mood builds in intensity before all is swamped by the return of the sea theme from the first movement. But after the fury of the shipwreck, it is Scheherazade who has the last word. Her spinning violin solo emerges in gentle triumph over the Sultan’s bloodthirsty resolution.

Yvonne Frindle © 2024

First performance: 3 November 1888, St Petersburg; composer conducting

First WASO performance: 21 & 23 May 1949, Henry Krips conducting.

Most recent WASO performance: 8-9 April 2021, Benjamin Northey conducting.

Instrumentation: two flutes, piccolo, two oboes (one doubling cor anglais), two clarinets and two bassoons; four horns, two trumpets, three trombones and tuba; timpani and a large percussion section; harp and strings.


intermezzo – in this context an intermezzo refers to a brief interlude or contrasting section in the middle of a larger movement.
synæsthesic – synæsthesia a condition in which one sense is melded with or experienced through another, e.g. different chords in music may be “seen” as colours.
– occur when rhythms are ‘shifted’ so their strong beats fall at unexpected points in the basic pulse of the music. For example, a basic pulse of 3 beats + 3 beats might be overlayed with a rhythm made up of 2+2+2. The effect is usually complex but compelling.

About WASO

Your Concert Experience

Meet the Musician

WASO Image

Community Engagement

Join us in Duet


Our Supporters

2024 Trusts and Foundations

Lead Partner of Crescendo


First Nations Creative Collaborations / Composition Project

Associate Conductor Program

About the Speaker

Connect with WASO

WASO Recommends

WASO Image

If you enjoyed tonight's concert, we think you'll love:

Ring Cycle

Iconic selections from Wagner’s legendary Ring cycle come thrillingly to life in the hands of celebrated Wagnerian, Asher Fisch. From the majestic Entrance of the Gods to the exhilarating Ride of the Valkyries, immerse yourself in this mythical odyssey that stirs the imagination.

Witness the world premiere of WA composer Lachlan Skipworth’s new concerto, written especially for WASO Principal Flute, Andrew Nicholson.

Asher Fisch appears courtesy of Wesfarmers Arts. Lachlan Skipworth's Flute Concerto commissioned for WASO by Geoff Stearn.

Fri 21 & Sat 22 June 2024, 7.30pm
Perth Concert Hall


2024 Corporate Partners

Principal Partner

Lead Partners

Government Partners

Major Partners

Supporting Partners

Beverage Partners

To share in our vision and discuss the many opportunities extended through corporate partnerships please contact Corporate Development on 08 9326 0020.

WASO Image
WASO Image