30-odd years ago the ‘Festival of Sydney’ started doing free concerts in The Domain. It was new and different and exciting and gave the people of Sydney access to opera and orchestral music as a way of celebrating the best of these art forms and fulfilling an unwritten civic contract. We have snapshots from this era of people really enjoying the family atmosphere and sharing their city in summer; some for the first time, others building family traditions with their kids.

Fast forward a couple of decades and Sydney Festival is a very different thing, Sydney is a different thing and lots of things have changed. The Domain is now jam-packed with concerts of all kinds, Sydney Opera House does regular forecourt concerts, the new Convention Centre and the Hordern Pavilion offer spaces to perform, Meriton Festival Village and the Cutaway at Barangaroo offer a huge array of free public events, concerts and performances during Sydney Festival. The city has grown exponentially, and changed so much.

Sydney Festival sees it as our job to prototype new ways of working and changing with the city. We want to keep the tradition of Symphony Under the Stars alive and meaningful to the city, hence the idea of sharing this well-loved tradition in Parramatta Park in 2017. In 2018 and beyond Sydney Festival will look for a new home for our free opera and orchestral offerings. We want to continue giving the people of Sydney this gift in a free, family-focused environment.

I reckon Sydney Festival alongside our partners in Symphony in The Domain and Opera in The Domain have achieved so much and created so many great memories for Sydney but the time has come to focus on the next step.

I look forward to seeing you at Symphony Under the Stars and Opera in The Domain in 2017.

Love Wesley.