The Western Australian Charity Orchestra was founded to provide Western Australian musicians with more opportunities to change lives through music.
As well as presenting outstanding concerts, our musicians regularly sing and play music in the community to make a difference. Throughout the year you will find WACO musicians performing in nursing homes, hospitals, schools and elsewhere in an effort to change lives through music.
In 2007 Samuel Parry began studying classical performance at university. Throughout his first year of study he was impressed by the high standard of his colleagues and of everyone’s enthusiasm to make as much music as possible. He’d also noted the then lack of musical opportunities in Perth over the summer holiday period, and decided that something needed to be done. As a result, the Western Australian Charity Orchestra was born.
The orchestra and choir presented their first ever performance in February 2008 in the Perth Concert Hall under the direction of Burhan Güner and Donna Taylor. The performance was given to raise funds for the Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation. The whole event was met with such enthusiasm that many performers requested for this once-off project to become an annual event. In February 2009 the ensemble again performed in the Perth Concert Hall to raise funds for charity.
Despite many enthusiastic volunteers, the project was put on hold following the February 2009 performance as Sam served as a full-time missionary in Auckland New Zealand for his faith from 2010-2012.
After returning to Australia and continuing his music studies at university, many old WACO participants expressed their enthusiasm for the WACO concerts to start up again. The annual concert project began again and the orchestra and choir performed in the then brand-new Churchlands Concert Hall in February 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016. WACO fundraised for various charities including Legacy, Youth Focus, The Esther Foundation, CanTeen, DreamFit, Redkite and Guide Dogs WA. From 2008-2016, WACO raised in excess of
$100,000 for charity.
In December 2015 Sam experienced a personal tragedy through the accidental death of his 21-month old son, River. The event caused Sam to re-evaluate his future plans, and after much thought he decided that WACO needed to become a focus of his life, and much more than an annual event.
In 2017 WACO launched its first year-long season including 9 performances in the year. The organisation grew to include the WA Wind Symphony and the NHarmonic Chorale. In its first ever public performance, the WA Wind Symphony participated in the WA State Band Championships and took home the A division championship trophy. The WACO ensembles continued to reach for higher standards tackling works such as Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5, Philip Sparke’s Music of the Spheres, Gustav Holst’s The Planets and John Rutter’s Requiem.
Rather than fundraising for other charities, WACO is now a charity itself that seeks to do its own work in the community and to partner with other charities to change lives through music.
In 2018 WACO’s membership has grown to be the largest it has ever been with over 200 volunteers. In March 2018 WACO had its first ever nursing home tour, and in April 2018 presented a flash mob and nine chamber ensembles at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital. The organisation is currently developing an educational program, and is constantly looking to expand its general impact in the community.
Anne Phillips, President
Chelsea Davis, Acting Vice-President
Rachel Hicks, Treasurer
Chelle Weedon, Secretary
Samuel Parry, Music Director
"Thank you so much you awesome and talented beautiful youg people for giving the Esther gals such a wonderful and first time experience to listen and witness a live orchestra of such quality and passion! What an inspiration you all are! We all loved it!"