Sydney Opera House
The Sydney Opera House is not just an icon - it is THE icon. You encounter its radiant white presence everywhere you go in Sydney. Whether you're in the circular quay (pronounced "key", to save you some embarrassment) or at some elevated point in the city, you will see the billowing sails of the Opera House. To fully appreciate this iconic wonder, take the Opera House tour! The committee tasked with selecting a design for the Opera House eventually chose a conceptual sketch -- with no architectural engineering details -- that had initially been discarded. The winning design was submitted by Danishman Jørn Utzon, who managed the project from 1959 until 1966. The actual engineering took over 10 years, exceeded its original budget by multi-millions of dollars, and must forever pay homage to the onion skin (take the tour!). But it is truly an architectural masterpiece. Queen Elizabeth II opened the Opera House in October, 1973.
The Sydney Symphony Orchestra brought to life the book I was reading at the time, 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami. The opening scene of the book takes place in a taxi, with Janacek's trumpet ensemble blaring its military tribute. Imagine my surprise when the Sydney Orchestra was playing that very piece! The orchestra opened with Brahms' Symphony No. 3, followed by Lalo's Symphonie Espagnole with Vadim Repin playing violin. The finale was Janacek's Sinfionetta. I would not recommend Brahms while recovering from jet lag, but Janacek commands your attention (like it or not!). The orchestra expanded two-fold for this piece, with extra drums and brass. It was a rousing and spectacular welcome for my first night in Sydney!