Australia leads the way to picking local maestros

Australia leads the way to picking local maestros


norman lebrecht

February 19, 2021

The Australian-based German Johannes Fritzsch has just been named principal conductor of the Queensland Symphony Orchestra. He succeeds the Mexican Alondra De La Parra, whom he preceded.

Fritsch is married to a former concertmaster of the Australian Opera and lives in Hobart, Tasmania.

Local batons are the way Australia is heading. The Sydney Symphony has Simone Young, Adelaide Symphony has Nicholas Carter, Perth lists Jessica Gethin as its conductor, Melbourne, which is vacant, is mostly conducted by local lad Benjamin Northey. Canberra has Jessica Cottis.

An Australia-first policy makes sense in the Covid and post-Covid landscape. Other nation-states will follow suit.



  • Doug Grant says:

    Johannes Fritzsch returns to the role he had before de la Parra was appointed – a solid, safe pair of hands.
    Carter has ended his tenure at Adelaide.
    Young is Australian, but has been resident in London.
    Asher Fisch is in charge in Perth.
    Melbourne desperately needs a “big name” or a young “star” of the order of Rouvalli or Makela to follow Andrew Davis – no Australian remotely qualifies. Hrusa has been sought, but declined. Sadly local resident conductor Ben Northey is without personality or excitement.

    • InterestedObserver says:

      What about Dane Lam? Doing lots of opera work and an Aussie. ..

    • Have worked with him says:

      Ben Northey is fabulous actually

    • G says:

      Northey is equally at home presenting a hugely energetic Beethoven 9th symphony as he is presenting a lively educational concert or a lighter, bustling symphonic program of Spanish music in the Myer Bowl. Plus he’s a much loved voice on ABC classic fm from time to time and has a similar rapport with MSO’s audience. And a top bloke. Not exactly sure what else your criteria for “personality and excitement” could require. At the very least, he’s hardly less exciting than Fritzsch (who is great).

    • Gianluigi says:

      There is also Daniel Smith, who qualifies 100%, Aussie, living in Italy now.

      • Just a musician says:

        I agree about Smith. I played in the orchestra for his long overdue debut in 2019. A rare talent (and the audience loved him).

  • James says:

    Also Australian conductor Jessica Cottis has the orchestra in Canberra.

  • RW2013 says:

    No doubt after an “extensive international search” it’s better the devil you know…

  • caranome says:

    Sounds like picking conductors is like picking local fruits n veggies in the farm to table movement. Locally sourced, organic, fresher, non-GMO, support local farmers. Also quite hyper nationalistic, anti-diversity, therefore racist, approach. Germans for German orchestras ! sounds a bit terrifying frankly.

  • Fiddlist says:

    Adelaide said goodbye to Carter.

  • Deb says:

    Now if only the Australian zopera could hire some Australian singers..

  • Jennifer Dyster says:

    I am very fond of Benjamin Northey. I live in Adelaide and before the pandemic flew to Melbourne occasionally for own viw is that he lacks big ego rather than personality. He is a great collaborator.

  • Just another person says:

    Probably never in the US; we only choose conductors from other countries with accents.