David Robertson
Sydney Symphony

The Sydney Symphony has today announced the appointment of American conductor David Robertson as its Chief Conductor and Artistic Director effective January 2014 through 2018 (five years). He succeeds Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor Vladimir Ashkenazy, who will continue his special relationship with the Sydney Symphony, performing with the orchestra each year from 2014.

According to Sydney Symphony Chairman John Conde, it was clear from the start of the search process that David Robertson was the favourite amongst the musicians and that he and the orchestra shared the same ambitions.

Said Conde, “At a time when orchestras around the world are cutting back, the Sydney Symphony is looking to expand its activities and we are proud to say, this orchestra has the means to do so. The Sydney Symphony under David Robertson will be undertaking some ground-breaking projects that will be shared throughout Australia and around the world. He will also add to the tradition of inviting high-profile guest artists to appear with the orchestra.”

Projects include many new initiatives for the Sydney Symphony under David Robertson’s leadership:
• At least two CD recordings for international distribution annually.
• Digital initiatives such as broadcasting, telecasting, webcasting and streaming.
• An annual opera-in-concert project incorporating multi-media and involving major international partners.
• Co-commissioning partnerships for the creation of major new orchestral works by Australian and international composers, including collaborations with some of the world's major orchestras such as the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra.
• Annual international touring with a specific focus on China.
• Building a strong collaborative relationship with Asia, both through touring and associated outreach activities such as master classes and musician exchanges.
• Collaborations with other performing arts companies in Australia.
• One multi-media project for international release each year.

David Robertson said: “I love the Sydney Symphony’s sense of adventure. I’ve already done a number of wide-ranging projects with the orchestra as a guest conductor and the musicians’ readiness to take on any artistic challenge is something I find personally inspiring. This partnership has the potential to change the way people think about orchestras and orchestral music, sharing the excitement with an ever-broader international audience.”

On the appointment, Federal Arts Minister Simon Crean said: “The Federal Government recognises and applauds the leadership role the Sydney Symphony plays as an ambassador for Australia and for Australian interests overseas, especially in fostering closer links with Asia. We see cultural exchange and connections as an important way to further our interests within the region. The appointment of an outstanding musician such as David Robertson to the helm of one of Australia’s flagship orchestras paves the way for building further on the orchestra’s international presence and in achieving recognition for the outstanding quality of Australian performing arts.”

According to Sydney Symphony Concertmaster Dene Olding, the musicians are thrilled about the appointment. “The musicians of the Sydney Symphony are honoured that David has agreed to join us on our musical journey together. He continues a long and proud tradition of outstanding conductors who have led the Sydney Symphony,” said Olding.

“He is an exceptional musician – highly intelligent, articulate and a wonderful communicator. His four previous appearances with the Sydney Symphony have shown the breadth of his repertoire and the sophistication of his musical interpretations all of which have led to performances of outstanding calibre – something attested to by audiences and critics alike,” added Olding.

David Robertson made his Australian debut with the Sydney Symphony in 2003 and since then has made regular visits to the orchestra, where his projects have included conceptual multi-media concerts such as The Colour of Time in 2008, and the Australian premiere of John Adams’ Doctor Atomic Symphony.

He has been Music Director of the St. Louis Symphony since 2005 and Principal Guest Conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, also since 2005. He has previously held titled positions with the Orchestre National de Lyon (Music Director, 2000–2004), Ensemble Intercontemporain in Paris (Music Director, 1992–2000) and Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra (Resident Conductor, 1985–1987). One of his early supporters was composer and conductor Pierre Boulez, Honorary President of Ensemble Intercontemporain.

David Robertson is a frequent guest conductor with major orchestras and opera houses around the world, and in the 2012–2013 season will appear with the New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony and at the Metropolitan Opera, and in Europe with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Ensemble Intercontemporain, as well as the Israel Philharmonic. This September he also tours Europe with the St. Louis Symphony and violinist Christian Tetzlaff.

He is a champion of young musicians, and has devoted time to working with students and young artists throughout his career. In addition to creating and leading outreach programs with the Ensemble Intercontemporain and the Orchestre National de Lyon, he has worked with students at Carnegie Hall’s Academy, the Paris Conservatoire, The Juilliard School, Tanglewood and Aspen Music Festival. In 2010 David Robertson led a successful conducting workshop for young Australian conductors with the Sydney Symphony.

David Robertson was born in Santa Monica, California and was educated at the Royal Academy of Music in London, where he studied horn and composition before turning to orchestral conducting. He is married to pianist Orli Shaham.

The press conference announcing this appointment is available on-demand to watch at