Artistic Director’s Message

To my dear musicians, colleagues and members of the Willoughby Symphony Orchestra family, 

As you all know, I’m not home in Australia at the moment. I’m writing this from Klagenfurt, Austria, in my new capacity as General Music Director of the State Opera House. I have just entered my second week of scenic rehearsals for Wagner’s “Die Walküre”. And though conducting any opera in Wagner’s Ring Cycle is rather overwhelming, I want you to know that I am constantly thinking about the Willoughby Symphony Orchestra – wonderful musicians, imaginative and creative management team, our terrific support in Council, and our superbly engaged audience members; working together, all of you produce the magic that makes our organisation such a unique jewel in Australia’s orchestral landscape.

I wish I could be working with the Willoughby Symphony Orchestra and Choir this season. Everyone knows how much I love the orchestra and The Concourse has also become a spiritual and musical home. I have been Chief Conductor with the Willoughby Symphony for more than twenty years, and this joyfoul, wonderful tenure has provided me with countless, unforgettable concert memories – moments in shared music making that I know will stay with me forever. I can’t wait to be with you all again, bringing some joy back into our community.

We’ve endured a few lockdowns in Germany, so I appreciate what a difficult situation Australia is experiencing right now. But I guess we’ve got no choice but to remain as positive and optimistic as possible. With Australia’s vaccinations ramping upwards, there’s surely light at the end of this long tunnel. Please stay healthy, in body and mind. I know our collective hearts go out to all of the people, especially in the Willoughby community, who are enduring unbearable hardships.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your continued support of the Willoughby Symphony Orchestra and Choir. As you can imagine, the past eighteen months have been an extremely challenging time for musicians and for the performing arts in general. Now, more than ever, music can play an important part in our lives. Music unites all of us; it keeps us connected and enriches our souls.

Thank you so much for continuing to engage with the orchestra at our COVID safe concerts like the Gala Symphony in February, The Marriage of Figaro Pocket Opera in March and the Next Chapters concert with Legs on the Wall aerial acrobatics in May. Thank you also for those who watched the orchestra’s performances online through the Melbourne Digital Concert Hall.

If you aren’t already aware, Willoughby Symphony Orchestra is presenting two special concerts this September.

Parisian Rhapsody showcases the best new talent Australian music has to offer with clarinettist Oliver Shermacher, rising star conductor Sam Weller and Composer in Residence Alice Chance.

This concert has been rescheduled from Saturday 14 August, 7pm to Sunday 4 September, 7pm and the Sunday 15 August, 2pm session has been rescheduled to Sunday 5 September, 7pm.

I’m pleased to announce that tickets have already gone on sale for Last Night of the Proms on Saturday 18 September, 7pm and Sunday 19 September, 2pm. Featuring Pacific Opera, the Willoughby Choir and pianist Vivian Choi, this rousing gala performance is part of a celebration of The Concourse’s 10th anniversary.

I’m looking forward to brighter days ahead and these fabulous concerts in September are a positive sign for the Willoughby community. Music is a beacon of comfort and hope during these times, and we hope to bring some joy to you this September through the wonderful, electrifying and passionate music making of our beloved orchestra.

Much love, 


Dr Nicholas Milton AM
Chief Conductor and Artistic Director