The legendary conductor Maestro Zubin Mehta has been awarded an Honorary Companion of the Order of Australia (AC), in recognition of his eminent service to the Australia-India bilateral relationship and humanity-at-large, particularly in the fields of classical music and philanthropy.
The award was presented to Maestro Mehta onstage by the Governor General of Australia, General David Hurley at the conclusion of a performance by the Australian World Orchestra, amidst rapturous applause.
With a career spanning more than five decades, Mehta is one of the world’s most celebrated and respected conductors. His career highlights, including Artistic Director of a number of the world’s most famous and eminent orchestras, are matched by his tireless philanthropic work, particularly in the field of educating children in western classical music.
In the gazetted announcement, the Governor General’s Office said “Maestro Zubin Mehta is thoroughly worthy of formal national recognition as an Honorary Companion in the General Division of the Order of Australia (AC).”
Australian World Orchestra Artistic Director Alexander Briger said, “We are delighted with this much deserved recognition for one of the world’s finest conductors who throughout his life continues to use the power of music to create unification.”
Briger’s sentiment was echoed in ABC Classic’s Mairi Nicolson’s recent profile of the Maestro.
“Zubin Mehta has always had an acute sense of social responsibility. Never one to stay silent on political issues either, his career has been characterised by what might be termed philharmonic diplomacy.”
The concert, when Maestro Mehta was awarded the Honorary Companion of the Order of Australia, concluded the Australian World Orchestra’s performances conducted by Maestro Mehta, which have taken place at the Edinburgh Festival, the BBC Proms, Melbourne’s Hamer Hall and The Sydney Opera House Concert Hall. The concert was broadcast on Classic Live.
Comprising 250 players drawn from over 50 orchestras and ensembles all over the world, the Australian World Orchestra has become one of Australia’s global representatives for classical music and has performed under the batons of luminaries including Sydney Symphony’s Chief Conductor Simone Young, Sir Simon Rattle, Riccardo Muti and Maestro Zubin Mehta.
Maestro Mehta has undertaken at least three cross-country tours through Australia since 1966, as Music Director of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, a position he held for 50 years. His deep connection with Australia came into special focus in 2013, when he served as the first international guest conductor of the Australian World Orchestra.
Briger said, “Maestro Zubin Mehta first came to the Australian World Orchestra in 2013 and the orchestra has been enriched by his musical brilliance and vision ever since, in performances in Australia, India and in the UK.
Congratulations are in order, and I am very proud that he has been awarded this order of honor. I, being of the same community has extremel respect that Maestro Zubin Mehta has earned this respect from a very small community, and reaching such great heights. My hats off to the Maestro.