Dr Nicholas Milton AM

Chief Conductor and Artistic Director

Chief Conductor and Artistic Director of the Willoughby Symphony Orchestra and Choir, Dr. Nicholas Milton AM has established an outstanding reputation for his charismatic stage presence and powerful interpretations of an extensive repertoire spanning both concert and opera. Renowned for his dynamic conducting style and compelling musical integrity, he continues to attract international attention as one of the most outstanding Australian conductors working today. Appointed as Chief Conductor of the Willoughby Symphony Orchestra in 2001, the orchestra’s reputation during his remarkable tenure has grown dramatically and is now regularly recognised as Australia’s finest community orchestra.

In 2021 Nicholas was appointed as Chief Conductor and General Music Director of the State Opera House in Klagenfurt, Austria, and Chief Conductor of the Kärntner Symphonieorchester (Carinthian Symphony Orchestra). Dr. Nicholas Milton AM also currently serves as Artistic Director and Chief Conductor of the Göttingen Symphony Orchestra in Lower Saxony Germany.

Milton was General Music Director and Chief Conductor of the State Opera House in Saarbrücken, Germany (Saarländisches Staatstheater) (2014-2018). Guest engagements in the last years have seen him conduct productions at the Deutsche Oper and Komische Oper (Berlin), Volksoper (Vienna), and in Dortmund, Leipzig, München, Linz, Innsbruck. In Sydney he has conducted Tosca, La Bohème, and Madama Butterfly for Opera Australia. In the current season, he returns to the Deutsche Oper Berlin to conduct Tosca and Don Giovanni.

Nicholas Milton’s concert engagements include appearances with leading orchestras in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, England, Hungary, France, Spain, the Netherlands and Asia, among them, the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Konzerthausorchester Berlin, NDR Sinfonieorchester Hamburg and Radiophilharmonie Hannover, SWR Radio Sinfonieorchester Stuttgart, Deutsche Radio Philharmonie Saarbrücken, Stuttgart Philharmonic, Dortmund Philharmonic, Staatsorchester Wiesbaden, Staatsorchester Darmstadt, Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz, Orchester des Nationaltheaters Mannheim, Bruckner Orchester Linz, Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana, Sinfonia Varsovia, Nagoya Philharmonic, and China National Symphony Orchestra.

Appointed as the youngest-ever concertmaster of a major Australian orchestra, Nicholas Milton enjoyed a distinguished career as a violinist and chamber musician before dedicating himself exclusively to conducting. He was Concertmaster of the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra and performed for eight years as Violinist in one of the country’s most well-known chamber music formations, Macquarie Trio Australia. He has served as Chief Conductor of the Dubrovnik Symphony Orchestra, Chief Conductor of the Innviertler Symphony Orchestra (Austria), General Music Director of the Jena Philharmonic Orchestra (2004-2010), and in 2020 concluded a fifteen year tenure as Chief Conductor and Artistic Director of the Canberra Symphony Orchestra.

Nicholas Milton’s discography includes over 60 CD recordings. He was nominated for a 2016 GRAMMY® Award in the category, Best Classical Instrumental Solo, for his recording with Joseph Moog of Piano Concertos by Grieg and Moszkowski. With the Konzerthausorchester Berlin he has recorded a series of CDs devoted to exiled Jewish composers. As chamber musician, he recorded dozens of award-winning CDs with the Macquarie Trio as well as the complete Haydn String Quartets for the Music Minus One label. Numerous forthcoming orchestral recordings with the Konzerthausorchester Berlin and the Deutsche Radio Philharmonie Saarbrücken Kaiserslautern are scheduled for release on the Onyx, CPO and Naxos labels.

Nicholas studied with Harry Curby at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, Michigan State University and at the Juilliard School. He holds four Master degrees in Violin, Conducting, Music Theory and Philosophy, and has a Doctorate in Music from the City University of New York. Mentored at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki by the legendary Jorma Panula, he won the 1999 Symphony Australia Conductor of the Year Competition and was a prize-winner in the Lovro von Matačić International Competition of Young Conductors. 

In 2001, Nicholas was awarded the Australian Centenary Medal for Service to Australian Society and the Advancement of Music. He went on to receive the 2014-15 College of Music Distinguished Alumni Award from Michigan State University and in 2015 was invited by the Australian Prime Minister to join the Australia-Germany Advisory Group.

In 2016, Nicholas was named a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for Significant Service to the Arts as Musician, Conductor and Artistic Director.

Header photo by John Appleyard.

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