Alondra de la Parra

Alondra de la ParraAlondra de la Parra. Photo © Peter Rigaud

People’s Choice: Australian Artist of the Year

It definitely breaks my heart that I’m not coming back to Australia next year but it’s the healthiest choice for me and my family. – Alondra de la Parra

Read our interview with Alondra de la Parra

In May 2015, Mexican conductor Alondra de la Parra made her debut with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra and by October she was named as the orchestra’s Music Director, a three-year posting she would begin in 2017. She became the first woman to head up one of Australia’s state symphony orchestras.

Limelight critic Paul Ballam-Cross described Alondra de la Parra as “an incredibly talented and charismatic conductor,” following her highly successful Latin American Gala concert with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra – billed as ‘Alondra hosts Mexico vs Brazil’ – in August last year, adding that “QSO is definitely lucky to have her!”

De la Parra’s tenure has seen her inject plenty of Latin American music into the QSO’s programs. “I want our audience to keep listening to what they love, but also get to know new sounds, new works and also grow our sense of what we want to hear as a community and as an audience, because we have to evolve,” she told Limelight in 2018.

Under De la Parra’s baton, Brisbane audiences have been treated to vibrant performances of music by Mexican composers like Carlos Chávez, José Pablo Moncayo, Silvestre Revueltas and Arturo Márquez, Brazil’s Camargo Guarnieri and Argentina’s Federico Jusid.

De la Parra finished up in Brisbane at the end of last year, and will focus on her European career in 2020, meaning she will be able to spend more time in the same time zone as her young children. “It definitely breaks my heart that I’m not coming back to Australia next year but it’s the healthiest choice for me and my family,” she told Limelight.

During her tenure in Brisbane, De la Parra’s international career continued apace. She has starred in Deutsche Welle’s series Musica Maestra since 2017, and in 2018 was named Mexico’s Woman of the Year. Angus McPherson

Runners up

Helena Dix has impressed audiences at home and abroad this year with outstanding performances as Bellini’s Norma for Melbourne Opera and Verdi’s Alice Ford for the Metropolitan Opera in her company debut.

Alexander Briger has led the Australian World Orchestra onwards and upwards since founding the crack ex-pat ensemble nine years ago. Limelight called this year’s concerts of Westlake, Janáček and Sibelius both “excellent” and “ebullient”.