New Sydney Festival director is booed by vast crowd

New Sydney Festival director is booed by vast crowd


norman lebrecht

January 15, 2017

From our person on the spot:



Just now, tonight in Sydney Australia, almost 100,000 people booed and screamed continuously at the new Artistic Director of Sydney Festival, Wesley Enoch, as he walked on stage and announced he had cut the traditional and hugely popular Symphony and Opera Under The Stars from Sydney Festival after 34 years, and that this concert now would be the last.

With all the screaming, you couldn’t hear him talk over the stadium sized PA system and it only stopped when he walked offstage laughing on the giant screens at everyone’s reaction. It was a disgrace! Great to see so many people passionate about classical music though!

UPDATE: The publicity manager for Sydney Festival tells us: Our audience numbers for Symphony in The Domain are between 20,000-30,000 on average, although we can’t yet confirm final attendance numbers for Saturday’s event.


  • David Osborne says:

    Perhaps he was indulging in some performance art. Announcing you’re cutting a popular item from the program to the massive audience at the event itself- How did he think that would go over?

  • Jock R says:

    Sydney Festival directors have been trying to cut these events for years (so some of them told me.) Why you would want to cut events getting 100k audience numbers is a good question.

    Wesley Enoch is a theatre person rather than a music person, so perhaps it doesn’t fit his interests and he feels he can wear the flak.

  • Marg says:

    In theory its not being cut – its being relocated to Parramatta, a major hub of the western suburbs of Sydney on the grounds that the majority of Sydney residents live in the western suburbs, not in the CBD (now, there’s a surprise!). I for one wont bother travelling out to Parramatta to see it – nor will the many tourists and Aussies in Sydney for the holidays staying in the vicinity where the rest of the Syd festival is held. Perhaps the intention is to relocate it so it fails, and then they can dump it. A very unpopular decision before the 100K people yelled disapproval.

    • John says:

      Pretty sure it’s got nothing to do with wanting to cut the event and everything to do with the logistics and cost of running such a free event in the CBD. Running it in Parramatta would be cheaper and make it accessible to those who would not normally have access to such an event when held in the city.

  • Sue says:

    Sydney Festival. Throngs of people congregated on the forecourt and in the myriad cafes ringing that side of the harbour – thump thump, boom boom.

    Ugly, all of it.