The Australian Brandenburg Orchestra is the leading early music ensemble in Australia.
It was proposed by Paul Dyer, a leading harpsichordist and early music scholar, with a debut planned for the Sydney Opera House's summer Mostly Mozart Festival of January 1990. Dyer assembled leading early instrument specialists and began intensive rehearsals in 1989 for their debut.
The debut was a success and established Australia as having joined the international "authentic" performance movement. Within the first ten years of its existence, it gained a reputation as being among the ranks of leading early music orchestra groups. Paul Dyer has remained its Artistic Director.
The ABO (named, of course, after Johann Sebastian Bach's famous set of six Brandenburg Concertos) immediately came into demand. It appeared in the Sydney Festival in 1991-1994 and 1998-1999 and at the Melbourne International Festival of the Arts in 1995. It has appeared with such artists as singers Yvonne Kenny, Graham Pushee, Emma Kirkby, and Derek Lee Ragin, and Australian-born early music violinist Elizabeth Wallfisch.
It first performed as an opera orchestra in 1993, playing in Monteverdi's L'Incoronazione di Poppea with The Australian Opera in the Sydney summer season. In 1994 it was described by a newspaper critic as "Australia's hottest orchestra."
The orchestra records for the ABC Classics label. Its recording with countertenor Graham Pushee in Händel arias was named ABC-FM (Australian Broadcasting Company) Best Recording of the Year and the 24 Hours Magazine Listeners' Choice Award for 1995. Its recording of Vivaldi's The Fours Seasons won the Listeners' Choice Award in 1997, and another set of Händel Arias, this time with Yvonne Kenny, was named the Australian Recording Industry Association winner for Best Classical Recording in 1998.
The ABO receives substantial corporate sponsorship and an annual grant from the NSW Ministry for the Arts. Its first trip abroad was to Tokyo, where a small ensemble of ABO soloists, conducted by Paul Dyer, accompanied Derek Lee Ragin in a well-received concert in March 1998.