The Adelaide Symphony Orchestra (ASO) is an Australian orchestra based in Adelaide, South Australia. Its primary venue is the Adelaide Town Hall, but the ASO also performs in other venues such as Elder Hall at the University of Adelaide and the Adelaide Festival Centre. The ASO provides the orchestral support for all productions of the State Opera of South Australia, as well as the Adelaide performances of the Australian Ballet and Opera Australia. The orchestra is also a regular featured ensemble at the Adelaide Festival.
The orchestra was founded as a 17-player radio ensemble in 1936. The orchestra reformed in 1949 as the 55-member South Australian Symphony Orchestra, with Henry Krips as its resident conductor. The orchestra reverted to its original title, the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, in late 1975, and currently comprises 74 permanent members. Chief conductors of the orchestra have included Elyakum Shapirra, Piero Gamba, Albert Rosen, Nicholas Braithwaite, and David Porcelijn. The ASO's most recent chief conductor was Arvo Volmer, who held the post from 2004 to 2013. He is currently the ASO's principal guest conductor and artistic advisor. Guest conductors have included the popular British conductor Anthony Inglis who conducted the ASO in playing Space Classics in September 2011, including dressing as a Jedi and conducting with a light saber. In 2007, the orchestra partnered with Hilltop Hoods to prepare a re-orchestrated release of their album The Hard Road, titled The Hard Road: Restrung. In 2015 the Hilltop Hoods collaborated for a second time with the 32-piece Adelaide Symphony Orchestra and the 20-piece Adelaide Chamber Singers Choir for their next re-orchestrated album titled Drinking from the Sun, Walking Under Stars Restrung.
The ASO's achievements have included its 1998 performances of Richard Wagner's Ring Cycle, the first Australian production since 1913 (although it was widely and erroneously claimed to be the first ever in Australia). The orchestra participated in the first fully Australian production of The Ring in 2004.
In 2009 Premier and Arts Minister Mike Rann proposed and provided government funding to the ASO to commission a major orchestral work about climate change. The ASO's world premiere of Gerard Brophy's 'The Blue Thread', inspired by the River Murray, was performed at the Concert for the Earth at the Adelaide Town Hall on 27 November 2010. The Rann government proposed and arranged funding for two further ASO commissions, the first an orchestral tribute to the cricketer Sir Donald Bradman, and the second commemorating the centenary of the ANZAC landings at Gallipoli. The world premiere of 'Our Don' by Natalie Williams was performed by the ASO in August 2014. The world premiere of an 'ANZAC Requiem' by composer Iain Grandage and librettist Kate Mulvany was performed on 22 April 2015.