Australia mourns a vital conductor, 76

Cancer today claimed Richard Gill, a vital force in Australian music for the past four decades.

Richard taught at the Sydney Conservatorium, was director of chorus at Opera Australia and in 2005 was appointed music director of Victorian Opera.

Latterly, he was head of the Australian Romantic & Classical Orchestra.

A convivial man, he had time for everyone.

 

 

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  • Richard Gill was an extraordinary musician and a great human being. I had the pleasure of working with him on numerous occasions. Always inspirational, supportive and honest. An advocate for music education for every child. May his legacy live on. RIP Richard and thank you.

  • History often records – from a musical perspective – the published names; the composers, the famous recorded conductors, soloists who made iconic recordings; and people who left some physical manifestation of their talent; buildings, instruments, institutions. Even reading the local obituaries of Richard Gill, much seems ephemeral; founded this, led that – even if, to the world at large, many of these bodies seem a bit fungible and intangible. But talk to anyone who had even a passing contact with Richard Gill, and it suddenly becomes evident that his influence was in the hearts and minds of those whose paths he crossed. The man was music personified, in his very being, and it was a contagious and infectious enthusiasm; always at the highest level, and with the enrichment of people – individuals – foremost at its core.
    I played under Richard’s baton only a couple of times (in a community orchestra, of all things) some 35 years ago, and yet the memory of the man and his passion is still indelibly impressed upon me all this time later. Since then I’d only seen him on TV, in some expert, or consultative, or even entertainment function, and yet the charisma and passion of the man was ever burning within him.
    Almost universally amongst local musicians – and indeed also the vast Australian diaspora of professional musicians – there will be affection, respect, and love for the work that Gill did; his effect on and inspiration of young musicians, his passion for music that he argued was inherent within every person on the planet. You had the impression with Richard that he thought toddlers should learn to sing at much the same time they learned to talk; everything about him was pointed to everyone gaining connection with the music that lay within us all.
    Gill’s legacy isn’t within sandstone walls, in publications, on bronze plaques, in digital files or on magnetic tapes; his is a living legacy that beats within the hearts of the thousands of singers and instrumentalists whose lives and music that he so passionately enriched with his love, humour and enthusiasm over so many years.
    Vale.

    Graeme Gee

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