One maestro pays tribute to another, recalling a friend, a mentor and one of the true giants of the Australian music scene.

Just 20 years ago this month I was in Melbourne with the cast of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Sunset Boulevard, rehearsing towards opening night on October 26th, 1996.  I was Associate Conductor on the show, working with Musical Director Brian Stacey. As with any show approaching opening night there was a lot of nervousness in the air. It was a big, dark, expensive musical and we were also reopening the Regent Theatre, a vast space designed for cinema rather than the immediacy of human theatre.

Two nights before opening, Brian conducted a successful preview. Crowds cheered at Debra Byrne as Norma Desmond and cheered even more for Hugh Jackman playing the Hollywood writer Joe Gillis, three or more years before his own ascent to Hollywood stardom. I said goodnight to Brian as he went off on his motorbike, first to a drink with some of the cast and then on to his home in Northcote. I never saw him again. In the early hours of the Friday morning he was killed in a hit-and-run accident and died...

This article is available online for Limelight subscribers. Log in to continue reading.

Not a subscriber? For a limited time our monthly digital subscription is only $3. Subscribe now and you will save 50% and have full access to our paywalled content and digital magazines.