Delving into the “maestro myth”: why are our best conductors overlooked?
Some of the world’s most eminent conducting stars are taking up positions with Australian orchestras. In the past three months, three new chief conductors have been announced for the Sydney Symphony (David Robertson, US), Melbourne Symphony (Sir Andrew Davis, UK) and West Australian Symphony (Asher Fisch, Israel).
While the orchestras spend millions on these international stars, why are no Australians considered for the top jobs?
In a feature for the July issue of Limelight, editor Francis Merson investigates the “Australian Maestro Myth”.
“The last Australian chief conductor of a major orchestra was Stuart Challender at the Sydney Symphony more than 20 years ago,” writes Merson. “Apart from Simone Young, who now focuses her attention overseas, there is no Australian conductor who regularly conducts serious repertoire in main series concerts.
“Meanwhile, the names of conductors for high-profile concerts read like the guest list of a United Nations summit – to which Australia was not invited.”
Is this a spectacular instance of cultural cringe, with Australian conductors simply being ignored by orchestras? Or are Aussie maestros simply not good enough to compete with the internationals?