Australian Conducting Academy points the baton to the future

8 April 2024

Ben Northey Conducting the TSO

The Australian Conducting Academy (ACA) is a one-of-a-kind program presenting an opportunity for Australian conductors to work with professional orchestras across Australia whilst being mentored by some of the country’s top Maestros. Australia is uniquely placed with a close-knit network of orchestras enabling a vast breadth of training experiences through this program for emerging conductors. Facilitated by the TSO, we launched a renewed pilot of this training opportunity following the pandemic.

The current program is now in its third year and incoming Artistic Director, Benjamin Northey, has big plans for the future.

From 2025 the program will adopt a flexible three-tiered approach where applicants can move from tier to tier when it suits them.

  • Tier 1 will be the Conductor Launchpad. A program enabling emerging conductors to get in front of a small ensemble from their state orchestra, taking it in turns to conduct the ensemble under the guidance of Northey.
  • Conductors will then progress to a Masterclass phase where selected conductors come face to face with a full orchestra.
  • Finally, the program will conclude with a showcase performance of the graduating conductors. These candidates will have a chance to strut their stuff in a full orchestral performance.

As well as a new flexible structure, Northey intends to include leadership training into the program to develop cultural leadership in each conductor, as well as musical – a vital part of being a professional in their field.

This is fulfilling a long-standing gap in the Australian musical training landscape. Australia is a country full of talented musicians, and many talented conductors, however Northey believes this full talent is not being realised as we’ve lacked consistent training pathways. Together we are building a sustainable pathway to ensure talent is developed and that emerging conductors not only can receive pre-professional training on their home shore but receive this from their future employers.

All involved are incredibly grateful to the Ian Potter Foundation who have generously supported the reinvigoration of ACA. It is an honour to be collaborating with our partner organisations across the country (SSO, MSO, ASO, WASO, QSO, Orchestra Victoria and Auckland Philharmonic) and we look forward to seeing the reward of investing in our local conductors into the future.