Since its founding in 1975, the ACO has presented 1700 performances of over 250 works by 80 Australian composers. That’s almost 50 performances a year of Australian works for 37 years.

The ACO has forged close relationships with a number of Australia’s leading composers, several of whom it has commissioned to write works especially for the ACO. In particular it has championed the work of Carl Vine, Brett Dean, Roger Smalley and Peter Sculthorpe. (Sculthorpe is the most-performed Australian composer by the ACO, with over 25 of his works having been played or presented by the ACO. He is also the composer of the most-performed work: the Lament for Strings was first played by the ACO in its 10th-ever concert, in 1976; since then it has been performed 100 times.) The ACO has also featured the work of composer-performers from a number of different musical genres, including Neil Finn, Tim Freedman and Joseph Tawadros.

Over the years the Orchestra has been a pioneer in cross-artform collaborations, and some of the fruits of that have been Parables, Lullabies and Secrets (Brett Dean, Neil Finn, Paul Healy, Michael Leunig, John Rodgers and Richard Tognetti) commissioned by the ACO in 2001; Luminous (Bill Henson, Richard Tognetti, and Paul Healy) commissioned by the ACO in 2005; The Red Tree (Shaun Tan, Richard Tognetti and Michael Yezerski) commissioned by the ACO in 2008; and The Glide (Jon Frank and Richard Tognetti) commissioned by Festival Maribor in 2009.

Some other highlights from this remarkable performance history include:

WERNER BAER (1914–1992) Colonial Suite (ACO commission, 1988)
DON BANKS (1923–1980) Cantus e Variants for solo cello
BANKS Sequence for solo cello
BANKS Take 8
ANNE BOYD (b.1946) Flute Concerto (ACO commission, 1992)
PETER BRIDEOAKE (b.1945) Imagery for string orchestra (ACO commission, 1981)
GERARD BROPHY (b.1953) Orfeo for string orchestra (ACO commission, 1984)
COLIN BRUMBY (b.1933) The Phoenix and the Turtle
NIGEL BUTTERLEY (b.1935) Goldengrove (ACO commission, 1982)
SIMPLICIUS CHEONG (b.1942) Divertimento for strings & percussion
BARRY CONYNGHAM (b.1944) Bennelong (ACO commission, 1988)
CONYNGHAM Cello Concerto
CONYNGHAM Glimpses (ACO commission, 1988)
STEPHEN CRONIN (b.1960) Après Nuages (ACO commission, 1998)
BRETT DEAN (b.1961) Carlo (ACO commission, 1997)
DEAN Etudenfest (ACO commission, 2000)
DEAN Game Over (ACO commission, 2000)
DEAN Pastoral Symphony (premiered by ACO, 2005)
DEAN Short Stories (ACO commission, 2005)
DEAN Testament
DEAN Voices of Angels
ROGER DEAN (b.1948) SonoPetal (ACO commission, 1995)
GEORGE DREYFUS (b.1928) Symphonie Concertante
ROSS EDWARDS (b.1943) Dancing Light (ACO commission, 1999)
EDWARDS Tyalgum Mantras
MARY FINSTERER (b.1962) Scimmia
ANDREW FORD (b.1957) Bright Shiners (ACO commission, 2009)
FORD Harbour (premiered by ACO, 1992)
FORD Jouissance (premiered by ACO, 1993)
FORD Manhattan Epiphanies (premiered by ACO, 1994)
FORD Pastoral
FORD The Widening Gyre (premiered by ACO, 1993)
CHRISTOPHER GORDON (b.1956) Chaconne (ACO commission, 2006)
PERCY GRAINGER (1882–1961) Blithe Bells
GRAINGER Mock Morris
GRAINGER Molly on the Shore
STUART GREENBAUM (b.1966) Moments of Falling
MOYA HENDERSON (b.1951) The Dreaming
HENDERSON Pellucid Days (ACO commission, 1989)
ALFRED HILL (1869–1960) Serenade
MATTHEW HINDSON (b.1968) Crime and Punishment (ACO commission, 2010)
BRIAN HOWARD (b.1951) A Fringe of Leaves
MARK ISAACS (b.1958) Piece for flute & strings (ACO commission, 1987)
ELENA KATS-CHERNIN (b.1957) Clocks
KATS-CHERNIN Torque (ACO commission, 2002)
KATS-CHERNIN Zoom & Zip (ACO commission, 1997)
GRAEME KOEHNE (b.1956) Capriccio (premiered by ACO, 1987)
KOEHNE To his servant Bach
JAMES LEDGER (b.1966) Folk Song (ACO commission, 2007)
LEDGER Johann has left the building (premiered by ACO, 2011)
LEDGER Restless Night (ACO commission, 2009)
GEORGES LENTZ (b.1965) Caeli enarrant… III
LENTZ Seven Last Words (ACO commission, 2004)
LENTZ Te Deum Laudamus
LIZA LIM (b.1966) Gothic (ACO commission, 1996)
DAVID LUMSDAINE (b.1931) Arc of Stars (ACO commission, 1990)
RICHARD MEALE (1932–2009) Cantilena Pacifica
MEALE Homage to Garcia Lorca
IAN MUNRO (b.1963) Black is the Night (ACO commission, 2009)
MIKE NOCK (b.1940) Transformations 1/11/111
ANTHONY PATERAS (b.1979) Autophagy (ACO commission, 2007)
PETER SCULTHORPE (b.1929) Chaconne (ACO commission, 2009)
SCULTHORPE Djilile (ACO commission, 2001)
SCULTHORPE First Sonata for Strings (ACO commission, 1983)
SCULTHORPE Lament for Strings (ACO commission, 1976)
SCULTHORPE Little Music for Strings (ACO commission, 1983)
SCULTHORPE Nourlangie (ACO commission, 1989)
SCULTHORPE Port Essington (ACO commission, 1977)
SCULTHORPE Rockpool Dreaming (premiered by ACO, 1999)
SCULTHORPE Second Sonata for Strings (ACO commission, 1988)
SCULTHORPE Third Sonata for Strings, “Jabiru Dreaming”
LARRY SITSKY (b.1934) In pace requiescat (ACO commission, 1989)
SITSKY Fantasia No.3 (i.m. Don Banks) (premiered by ACO, 1981)
ROGER SMALLEY (b.1943) Figures in a Landscape (ACO commission, 1996)
SMALLEY Footwork (Birthday Tango) (ACO commission, 2006)
SMALLEY Strung Out
MICHAEL SMETANIN (b.1958) Fylgjir
SMETANIN Shakhmat/Supremat
SMETANIN Strip (premiered by the ACO, 1992)
DAVID STANHOPE (b.1952) String Songs
MARGARET SUTHERLAND (1897–1984) Concerto for String Orchestra
RICHARD TOGNETTI (b.1965) Deviance (after Paganini) (premiered by ACO, 1993)
TOGNETTI Hallow (premiered by the ACO, 1997)
CATHIE TRAVERS (b.1959) Ulupunru I (ACO commission, 1994)
CARL VINE (b.1954) Canzona (ACO commission, 1985)
VINE Concerto Grosso
VINE Esperance (premiered by ACO, 1995)
VINE Pipe Dreams (ACO commission, 2003)
VINE Smith's Alchemy (premiered by ACO, 2001)
VINE XX (ACO commission, 2009)
NIGEL WESTLAKE (b.1958) Shadow Dances
WESTLAKE Out of the Blue (ACO commission, 1994)
MICHAEL WHITICKER (b.1954) Ad marginem