Sydney Symphony Orchestra announces Simone Young as next Chief Conductor

AAR SSO Simone Young AMFollowing an extensive international search, the Sydney Symphony Orchestra has announced that Simone Young AM will be the Orchestra’s Chief Conductor from 2022. In the 12 months prior to her taking up the role, Young will be the Orchestra’s Chief Conductor Designate.

In preparation for her debut as Chief Conductor in 2022, the internationally renowned conductor will work with the Orchestra to shape its 2022 season and prepare for the Orchestra’s return to the Concert Hall of the Sydney Opera House. The Orchestra leaves the Sydney Opera House in December 2019 to allow for a two-year renovation of the Concert Hall. Young’s debut as Chief Conductor in 2022 will coincide with the reopening of the Concert Hall, the Orchestra’s home since the Sydney Opera House opened in 1973.

The Australian-born conductor’s long-standing association with the Sydney Symphony began in 1996, and she has been a frequent guest conductor while residing in Europe and holding roles with major institutions there. From 2005 to 2015, she was General Manager and Artistic Director of the Hamburg State Opera and Music Director of the Hamburg Philharmonic State Orchestra. She is currently Principal Guest Conductor of the Lausanne Chamber Orchestra, Switzerland.

Celebrated as one of the world’s leading interpreters of the symphonic and operatic repertoires, Young has been a regular guest with internationally renowned companies such as the Wiener Staatsoper, the Staatsoper Unter den Linden, Berlin, Bavarian State Opera, Munich, Zurich Opera and orchestras including the Vienna Philharmonic, the Berlin Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, New York Philharmonic and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

“I am thrilled to take up this role with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. As an Orchestra, it is amongst the world’s finest. Since my first appearances with the Sydney Symphony 23 years ago, I have witnessed its extraordinary artistic growth,” said Ms Young. “It’s a virtuosic ensemble and it is an Orchestra of which every Australian can be proud.”

“It is an Orchestra I know and love. I grew up with the Sydney Symphony and its performances provided me with a rich experience of music which I was able to take with me from my high school days to the moment I first stepped on a podium. The Orchestra continues to inspire me.”

“My first season as Chief Conductor will coincide with the reopening of the Sydney Opera House Concert Hall which has been the Orchestra’s home since the opening of the Sydney Opera House in 1973. With the completion of the acoustic refurbishment, audiences will be able to experience the extraordinary musical quality of the Sydney Symphony with every performance.”

“It is a remarkable time for classical music in Australia. The acoustic renewal of the Concert Hall is a wonderful and appropriate gift and will ensure that the Orchestra reaches even greater heights of performance.”

“Simone Young is one of Australia’s greatest musical exports,” said Emma Dunch, CEO Sydney Symphony. “That she has agreed to become our Chief Conductor represents a landmark moment in the history of the Sydney Symphony, and for classical music in Australia.

“Simone comes to the Sydney Symphony with an extraordinary international reputation for artistic excellence and musical success across the symphonic and operatic spheres. Her extraordinary talent and achievements, and her presence here, will have a profound impact on the musical and cultural life of our nation.”

“One of the great artistic institutions of this country led by a brilliant musical mind will be matched by a renewed Concert Hall of international standards. This will be a stunning time for music and for communities,” added Ms Dunch.

In an initial three-year commitment (2022–2024) as Chief Conductor, Young will conduct the Sydney Symphony for eight weeks every year commencing with the 2022 season and will continue to work with the Orchestra around artistic planning and programming while she fulfills her ongoing conducting engagements in Europe and the United States of America.

“Simone Young’s appointment comes after an intensive global search for our next Chief Conductor,” said Terrey Arcus AM, Chairman of the Sydney Symphony’s Board of Directors. “It has been a process led by our musicians, our CEO, and me. Simone Young was our Orchestra’s first choice and we are truly honoured that Simone has agreed to take up this role.”

“She has a phenomenal international career and her desire to take the Sydney Symphony to greater artistic achievements is very exciting. She is a remarkable communicator – both organisationally and musically – her appointment has received unanimous support through a formal vote by the musicians of the Sydney Symphony. They recognised that this is a huge artistic opportunity. This is a moment for the entire community to celebrate,” said Mr Arcus.

The Sydney Symphony Orchestra has been a leading musical institution since its formation in 1932. Over 87 years it has brought hundreds of international musical luminaries to Australia. It is resident at the Sydney Opera House Concert Hall, which was constructed after a public campaign initiated and led by the Orchestra’s first Chief Conductor, Sir Eugene Goossens, in the 1950s.

Simone Young becomes the Orchestra’s thirteenth Chief Conductor, the first Australian-born conductor to hold the position since 1991, and the third Australian to hold the title. The Sydney Symphony’s two previous Australian-born Chief Conductors were Sir Charles Mackerras (1982–1985) and Stuart Challender (1987–1991).

Simone Young returns to Australia in 2020 to conduct her Visions of Vienna project with the Orchestra. Find out more about Simone Young conducts BeethovenA Viennese GalaBrahms Symphony No.4 and  Simone Young conducts Brahms. For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Simone Young – courtesy of Sydney Symphony Orchestra

Source: Sydney Symphony Orchestra