Chief Conductor, Dr Nicholas Milton

Since 2001, the Willoughby Symphony’s Chief Conductor has been Dr Nicholas Milton, one of the foremost Australian conductors of his generation. Dr Milton is proud to maintain his connection with the neighbourhood in which he grew up though his association with the Willoughby Symphony, and returns for concerts on the North Shore between his many European engagements.

Dr Nicholas Milton


Nicholas Milton has established a reputation as one of the leading Australian conductors of his generation. He was appointed Chief Conductor of the Willoughby Symphony Orchestra in 2001 and the reputation of the organisation during his exciting tenure has grown dramatically. The Willoughby Symphony Orchestra is now regularly recognized by the Orchestras Australia network as the finest community orchestra in the country. Nicholas Milton’s ongoing association with this unique group of musicians has helped to transform the orchestra into an ensemble that performs at the highest artistic level and whose interaction with its community is vibrant and exhilarating. Nicholas attended Chatswood Primary School, and though he now spends most of his time in Europe, he still maintains a home in the lower North Shore and is exceedingly proud to continue his long and fruitful cooperation with his beloved local orchestra in Willoughby.

Nicholas Milton was Music Director of the Jena Philharmonic Orchestra (Germany) from 2004 to 2010 and has also served as Chief Conductor and Artistic Director of the Canberra Symphony Orchestra since 2007. His sensational 2008 debut with the Dortmund Philharmonic was followed in quick succession by numerous prestigious invitations, including his debuts with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, NDR Radio Philharmonie Hannover, SWR Radio Symphony Stuttgart, Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana, the orchestras of Wiesbaden, Mannheim, Darmstadt, Nice, Odense, Ljubljana (RTV Slovenia Symphony Orchestra) and Beijing (China National Symphony Orchestra). He also gave his debut in 2010 at Vienna’s Musikverein with the Tonkünstler Orchestra. Future orchestral highlights include return visits to the London Philharmonic Orchestra and to the orchestras in Hannover and Wiesbaden, as well as his debuts with the Konzerthausorchester Berlin, Deutsche Radio Philharmonie Saarbrücken, Staatskapelle Halle, Stuttgarter Philharmoniker, Bruckner Orchestra Linz and Brabants Orchestra (Holland).

Nicholas Milton is also a devoted interpreter of opera. He conducted Don Giovanni in his European opera debut with the Gewandhausorchester in Leipzig. Other recent theatre credits include productions of Die Fledermaus at the Volksoper in Vienna, Die Zauberflöte in Innsbruck, and performances of Cosi fan tutte, Le Nozze di Figaro and Hänsel und Gretel in Jena. In 2007 he conducted Franz Schmidt’s Das Buch mit sieben Siegeln (The Book with Seven Seals) at the German National Theatre in Weimar and in 2009 he led the acclaimed new production of Henze’s ballet Undine in Rostock. He was Assistant to Jeffrey Tate for the State Opera of South Australia’s acclaimed Ring Cycle (2001) and for Parsifal (2003). In 2011 he returns to Vienna for Carmen and to Innsbruck for the new production of La Fanciulla del west, and he will conduct his debut at the Komische Oper Berlin in the 2011/12 season.

Originally a violinist, Nicholas Milton was Concertmaster of the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra (1996 – 2002) and violinist with Macquarie Trio (1998 – 2005). He studied at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, Michigan State University, the Mannes College of Music and the Juilliard School. He holds Master’s degrees in Violin, Conducting, Music Theory and Philosophy, and a Doctoral degree in Music from the City University of New York. Mentored at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki by Jorma Panula, he won the 1999 Symphony Australia Conductor of the Year Competition and was a prizewinner in the Lovro von Matačić International Competition of Young Conductors. In 2001 Dr Milton was awarded the Australian Centenary Medal for Service to Australian Society and the Advancement of Music.