Composer Andrew Ford and Heldenbaritone John Wegner are also named among the 565 Australian honourees.
Conductor and music educationalist Richard Gill, composer, writer and ABC Radio National presenter Andrew Ford, and Heldenbaritone John Wegner are among the arts recipients announced in the Queen’s Birthday Honours yesterday.
Richard Gill, appointed to Officer (AO) in the General Division, is one of Australia’s most respected and proactive figures in music education. He has written books and articles, including a regular column for Limelight, programmed concert series, and given talks and lectures on the power of music in the education space. Advocating for better training for teachers and increased hours for music education in the curriculum, Gill is a passionate believer in the numerous scholastic advantages and improvements in childrens’ intellectual and psychological development offered by listening and performing music. As a conductor, he is in demand across the country. The former dean of the West Australian Conservatorium of Music, former Director of Chorus at Australian Opera (now Opera Australia), and the inaugural Music Director of Victorian Opera between 2005 and 2013, Gill is currently the Musical Director of the Sydney Chamber Choir and Artistic Director of period ensemble Orchestra Seventeen88. Gill was previously honoured with a Medal (OAM) in 1994.
Dr Andrew Ford, recognised with a Medal (OAM) in the General Division, is one of Australia’s most highly regarded composers and music writers. Among his list of achievements, he was the composer-in-residence with the Australian Chamber Orchestra between 1992 -1994, the 1998 Peggy Glanville-Hicks Composer Fellow and was awarded a two-year fellowship by the Music Board of the Australia Council from 2005 – 2006. In 2009 he was appointed as the composer-in-residence of the Australian National Academy of Music in Melbourne. He has written several books on musicology and music criticism and has presented the popular The Music Show on ABC Radio National since 1995.
John Wegner, who was also appointed an Office (AO) in the General Division, has had an impressive international career performing in 22 countries worldwide for more than 30 years. For 11 years, between 1981 and 1992 he was a principal artist with Opera Australia before relocating to Europe, making his debut performance in Karlsruhe as Jozanna in Salome. However, it would be the role of Wotan in Wagner’s Ring cycle that would prove to be his most celebrated role. He performed six seasons at the Bayreuth Festival, the most prestigious presenter of Wagner in the world, but has also performed in a range of major roles on some of Europe’s most hallowed stages, including performances for English National Opera, La Scala Milan, the Royal Opera, Deutsche Oper and La Monnaie. Wegner was unfortunately forced to withdraw from Opera Australia’s Melbourne Ring Cycle due to the onset of Parkinson’s Disease, a condition he continues to battle.
Also honoured this year for their contributions to the arts were singer-songwriter Kate Cebrano, Director of Theme & Variations Piano Services Ara Vartoukian , notable philanthropist Roslyn Packer, head of indigenous programming at the Sydney Opera House, Rhoda Roberts, founder of the Melba Opera Trust, Robert Logie-Smith, South Australian-based flautist and academic, Elizabeth Koch, and the art collector and philanthropist John Kaldor. In total, 565 Australians were named in this year’s honours, celebrated for contributions to Australian life and culture across a huge spectrum of disciplines.
The full list of 2016’s Queen’s Birthday Honourees can be found here.