Richard Gill, AO Conductor / Music Educator

Richard Gill Conducting

We pay tribute to Richard Gill AO who was born on November 4, 1941 and died at his Sydney home on Sunday, October 28 2018, after a year-long battle with cancer. 

Despite his illness, Richard completed his final scenes for The Eulogy several months before he passed away.  He was an inspiration to everyone who worked on the film and we all feel very privileged to have had the opportunity to have collaborated with Richard on one of his final projects.    

Richard was a champion of Australian music with no equal. He was a celebrated conductor, and an outstanding music educator of children. It is with much pride and admiration we look back at some of the highlights of his unrivalled and impressive career.

Richard was a Founding Music Director and Conductor Emeritus of Victorian Opera, and was one of Australia’s pre-eminent and most admired conductors specialising in opera, musical theatre and vocal and choral training and was internationally respected as a music educator.

Richard’s work in developing young musicians and creating opportunities for them was recognised world-wide. Richard was Artistic Director of the Education Program for the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Artistic Director of OzOpera, Artistic Director and Chief Conductor of the Canberra Symphony Orchestra, and Artistic Advisor for the Musica Viva Education program.

He was also the Music Director of Sydney Chamber Choir, Artistic Director of the Australian Romantic and Classical Orchestra (ARCO) and was the Founder and Director of the National Music Teacher Mentoring Program.

The international law firm, King & Wood Mallesons, endowed a chair in music education at the Conservatorium High School, secondary arm of the Conservatorium of Music in Sydney. Richard was the inaugural King & Wood Mallesons Conservatorium Chair in Music Education.

Up until his death Richard worked with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra for Ears Wide Open, Sydney Chamber Choir, Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra for Unwrap the Music, Taipei American School as the Joanna Nichols Performing Artist in Residence, and the Australian National Academy of Music, Melbourne, as well as being a mentor and music educator to young musicians, teachers and many community groups in Australia.

In 2012 Richard’s memoir “Give Me Excess of It”, described by Pan Macmillan as “warm, extremely funny, highly opinionated, occasionally rude (where warranted) and always sublimely full of the love of music”, was published.

His work in the concert hall was extensive and included concerts with all the major Australian orchestras, Sydney Philharmonia, Canberra Symphony Orchestra as well as the Australian, Sydney, and Western Australian Youth Orchestras. For the Sydney Symphony he regularly conducted their Meet the Music concerts, Discovery concerts with the Sydney Symphony Sinfonia, and Sinfonietta concerts.

Richard held several other important posts including Dean of the West Australian Conservatorium of Music (1985-1990) and Director of Chorus at The Australian Opera (1990-1996) and has received numerous accolades during the course of his career, including an Order of Australia Medal, the Bernard Heinze Award for Services to Music in Australia, an Honorary Doctorate from the Edith Cowan University of Western Australia for his service to Australian music and musicians, an Hon. Doc. (ACU), and the Australian Music Centre’s award for ‘Most Distinguished Contribution to the Presentation of Australian Composition by an Individual’.

Richard was also the recipient of the prestigious Don Banks Award 2006 by the Australia Council and the 2014 APRA Art Music Award for Distinguished Services to Australian Music.