Richard Gill (conductor)

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Richard Gill: The Value of Music Education, TEDxSydney, 2011

Richard James Gill AO (born 4 November 1941 in Sydney) is an Australian conductor of choral, orchestral and operatic works, who has been involved in music training and education.


Prior to becoming a professional conductor, Richard Gill was a music teacher at Marsden High School, West Ryde, in Sydney. Among his students there was Kim Williams who later became a lifelong friend.[1] In 1969, he was the founding conductor of the Strathfield Symphony Orchestra in Sydney.[2] He continued as conductor in 1973–74 and returned in 1979 to conduct the orchestra's 10th anniversary concert. In 1971 he studied at the Orff Institute of the Mozarteum in Salzburg. He was later invited to teach at the summer schools in Salzburg; on one occasion he was one of the pianists in the version of Carmina Burana for two pianos and percussion, conducted by Carl Orff himself.[3] In 1982, he was invited as a principal presenter to the annual conference of the American Orff Schulwerk Association (AOSA); this led to further workshops and classes throughout the United States. Other posts include dean of the Western Australian Conservatorium of Music (1985–1990) and Director of Chorus at the Opera Australia (1990–1996).

In August 2005, Gill was appointed Music director of the new, Melbourne-based Victorian Opera.

In 2013, along with Rachael Beesley and Nicole van Bruggen, he established the Australian Romantic & Classical Orchestra (formerly 'orchestra seventeen88'). Gill is currently the Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the orchestra.

In 2014, he was appointed to succeed Paul Stanhope as Musical Director of the Sydney Chamber Choir.

In February 2017 Gill conducted the inaugural gathering of the Sydney Flash Mob Choir at the City Recital Hall in Angel Place, Sydney, bringing together singers and would-be singers from all walks of life for a monthly 40-minute singalong.[4][5]


Gill's operatic repertoire has included performances with Opera Queensland, Opera Australia, the Sydney, Adelaide and Melbourne Festivals, and Windmill Performing Arts. He has conducted the world premieres of Alan John's The Eighth Wonder (1995) and Moya Henderson's Lindy (2002) with Opera Australia, and Jonathan Mills' The Ghost Wife at the Melbourne International Arts Festival in 1999 (and again at London's Barbican Centre in 2002), and The Eternity Man at the Sydney Festival in 2004. For the Victorian Opera he has conducted the new Australian works The Love of the Nightingale by Richard Mills (2007) and Alan John's Through the Looking Glass (2008). His work in the concert hall includes concerts with all the major Australian orchestras.

In his Discovery and Ears Wide Open series of concerts, he takes selected works from the traditional and the contemporary classical music repertoire and analyses the works in a humorous and entertaining manner, trying to find what makes the works "tick" and to, as he says, listen to the music "with new ears".[citation needed]


He has composed the music for Brisbane Girls Grammar School school song, "Nil sine labore".[6]


Awards include an Order of Australia Medal in 1994,[7] a Centenary Medal in 2001,[8] the Bernard Heinze Award for services to music in Australia, and an honorary doctorate from the Edith Cowan University of Western Australia for his service to Australian music and musicians. In 2001 he received the Australian Music Centre's award for 'Most Distinguished Contribution to the Presentation of Australian Composition by an Individual'. In December 2005, he was awarded the Don Banks Music Award 2006 by the Australia Council for the Arts. In 2016 he was promoted within the Order of Australia to Officer level.[9]

Gill was awarded a MOST Achievement Award in July 2018 "in recognition of his exceptional contribution to the Arts in Australia as both a conductor and as a music educator".[10] Two weeks later he was awarded the Arts Leadership Award at the 2018 Creative Partnerships Awards, held at the Art Gallery of New South Wales.[11]


In 2006 he appeared in the 4-part ABC documentary/reality series Operatunity Oz, which sought Australian singers with opera potential, and in the 2007 follow-up episode Operatunity Oz – Twelve Months On.

He has been an occasional guest on ABC-TV's popular-music panel show Spicks and Specks.[12][13]

In January 2009, Richard Gill worked with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra's National Youth Orchestra (NYO) in their National Music Camp in Napier, New Zealand, on the occasion of NYO's 50th anniversary celebrations.[14]


  1. ^ Gill, Richard (2012). Give me excess of it – A Memoir. Pan Macmillan Australia. pp. 154–155. ISBN 9781742613642. 
  2. ^ Strathfield Symphony – About
  3. ^ Limelight, February 2009, p. 40.
  4. ^ Munro, Peter (2017-02-05). "Free-for-all flash mob choir hits the right note for Sydney's closet singers". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2018-08-07. 
  5. ^ "Sydney just got its first Flash Mob Choir – and it's glorious". Time Out Sydney. Retrieved 2018-08-07. 
  6. ^ "School Song", Gazette, Spring 2010, p. 43
  7. ^ Gill, Richard James – Medal of the Order of Australia, It's an Honour website, Australian Government
  8. ^ Gill, Richard James – Centenary Medal, It's an Honour website, Australian Government
  9. ^ It's an Honour: AO
  10. ^ "2018 MOST Achievement Award (YPA) - MOST". MOST. 2018-08-02. Retrieved 2018-08-07. 
  11. ^ McPherson, Angus (2018-08-07). "Richard Gill honoured with Arts Leadership Award". Limelight. Retrieved 2018-08-07. 
  12. ^ "Opera's siren song" by John Mangan, The Age (17 August 2008)
  13. ^ Richard Gill on IMDb
  14. ^ "Information on the NZSO NYO's 50th year celebrations". Archived from the original on 21 April 2009. Retrieved 4 February 2009. 

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