The 33-year-old wins $50,000 and mentorship at The Australian Ballet, Opera Australia and the Sydney Symphony.

Patrick Burns has won the 2017 Hephzibah Tintner Conducting Fellowship. The award is given to an emerging talent who the judges consider will contribute to the cultural and artistic life of Australia. As well as a monetary prize of $50,000, the Fellowship provides training and mentorship opportunities for two years at The Australian Ballet, Opera Australia, and Sydney Symphony Orchestra, where the recipient is included in the conducting process.

Patrick BurnsPatrick Burns

Burns follows in the footsteps of previous Hephzibah Tintner Conducting Fellows Simon Hewett and Simon Thew who are now both established stage conductors – Hewett with the Hamburg Ballet, and Thew with The Australian Ballet and Birmingham City Ballet. “This Fellowship delivers on its vision of supporting promising Australian artists. We have seen two careers form for our conducting alumni, and are confident Patrick shows similar aptitude,” said Foundation Chair Frank Sartor, AO.

Speaking to Limelight, Burns says: “I feel very honoured and humbled to have been selected, especially knowing the quality and experience of my other conducting colleagues who were competing for this prize.”

Finalists conducted selections from Bizet’s Carmen, Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker and Mozart’s Jupiter Symphony with the Opera Australia Orchestra in Sydney last month. The judging panel were Nicolette Fraillon, Music Director and Chief Conductor of The Australian Ballet; Tony Legge, Conductor at Opera Australia; and Raff Wilson, Director of Artistic Planning at the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.

“The panel was pleased to choose Patrick Burns from a strong field of conductors,” Wilson tells Limelight. “We feel that his promise and versatility on the podium make him a fitting recipient of the Fellowship, which encourages exactly these qualities. Our organisations look forward to nurturing his next steps as a conductor, and we thank the Hephzibah Foundation for its longstanding, inspired support of young Australian talent.”

Burns says he is excited at the opportunity “to work with these three companies and be mentored by the various artistic staff, and to also be immersed in their daily working environments.” He hopes “to gain as much experience as possible whilst expanding and developing the knowledge and skills I already have in each of the conducting disciplines.”

Asked if he has a particular interest in conducting opera, ballet or concert repertoire, he says: “This is a tough question to answer, because whilst I can say that I have a passion for working with singers both in opera and concert work, I get equally excited at the prospects of conducting a Stravinsky or Tchaikovsky ballet, or a symphonic work by Mahler, Vaughan Williams or Peggy Glanville-Hicks. I find that great music is great music, no matter what genre, and any day being involved with great music is a good day at the office in my books… Ultimately, I would love to have a full career conducting works for stage, both opera and ballet, and also be in a position to continue to programme and perform works by Australian composers, and work with developing artists.”

Burns studied at the Queensland Conservatorium before undertaking a Master of Music degree in Melbourne under Professor John Hopkins. He is an alumnus of the Symphony Australia conductor development programme, which saw him working with professional orchestras in Australia and New Zealand. He has had recent competition success in the 2015 Blue Danube International Opera Conducting Competition, Bulgaria (Jury’s Special Prize) and the 2016 Black Sea Opera Conducting Competition, Romania (Orchestra’s Choice Prize), which led to performances with the State Opera of Bulgaria, Rousse and The Pazardzhik Symphony Orchestra, Bulgaria.

In 2017, he served as an Assistant Conductor at the National Theatre of Serbia in Belgrade, working on a new production of Verdi’s La Forza del Destino and conducting Verdi’s Otello. He also has a passion for community music, and has worked with the Ballarat Symphony Orchestra, Melbourne Citi Opera, Opera Studio Melbourne, Preston Symphony Orchestra and charity fundraising group Feature Set in support of Oz Child. He works on occasion for the School of Hard Knocks Association, and is currently Chief Conductor with the Ipswich City Orchestra, and President and Music Director of Melbourne’s XL Arts.

“I feel everything that I have participated in has been useful to my development, with some of the best lessons often coming from the least successful or most difficult experiences in my career to date,” he tells Limelight. “I would like to single out my participation in the now discontinued Symphony Australia Conductor Training Program as being one of the important [milestones] in my development. This unique programme taught me so many important lessons and the quality of the training was truly world-class. The quality and worth of this programme is best represented not just by my successes but is exemplified through the successes of the numerous other participants who I shared these courses with and who now hold prominent positions both locally and internationally – Nicholas Carter, Dan Carter, Mathew Toogood, Jessica Gethin, Nathan Aspinal… the list goes on.”

The Hephzibah Tintner Foundation was set up in memory of Hephzibah Tintner a ballet dancer and actor who died from cancer in June 2001, aged 30. An Advisory Committee of representatives from leading Australian cultural organisations recommend Fellowship recipients. These organisations include Opera Australia, Sydney Dance Company, Sydney Symphony Orchestra and The Australian Ballet.

More information about the Hephzibah Tintner Foundation can be found HERE

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