Culture & Lifestyle

Melbourne Symphony Orchestra appoints new chief conductor after five year search

Martin said he hoped to surprise his audience, “to hit their hearts and warm their hearts”. He also wants “to take the music further” by nurturing new works.

In February this year, Martin conducted the premiere of Deborah Cheetham’s ‘Nanyubak’, played by Aaron Wyatt and the MSO

Appearing with the MSO in Melbourne in February, Martin conducted the premiere of Nanyubak, by Yorta Yorta composer and soprano Deborah Cheetham.

Aaron Wyatt, the viola soloist at that performance, is of Noongar, Yamatji and Wongi heritage. It was the first time a First Nations instrumentalist had played with a major symphony orchestra in Australia.

“Someone like Aaron, he would be such an inspiration for other kids – not just an inspiration for other musicians, but an inspiration full stop. Because I think it is important to see that it is possible to do it.”

Accessibility is high on Martin’s agenda. It was only because music was part of his primary school curriculum that he was able to study it. From a humble family in Santander on Spain’s north coast, seeing his first concert when he was eight was life-changing.

“When I think about that, I think I was lucky because if I was interested in learning to play the flute, I could do it, that was not a problem. Music education was free for everybody.”

Martin said instead of fixating on younger audiences, the more pressing question was how to expose children and teenagers to classical music. “I think it is a question of life – at different times in life we want different things. There are 20-somethings who want to go see Shakespeare or Beethoven, of course, there would be loads, but … I have two boys and if I asked them would you like to go to one of my concerts or a pop concert, probably they would want to go to a pop concert. The same as if you asked me, I want to sit down. They want to be jumping and dancing around.”

He said life in London was slowly returning to normal, with concerts starting again. He has been conducting in Spain, Ireland and will head to Los Angeles next week.


Martin doesn’t play the flute often these days but said playing in an orchestra is magical.

“There’s something about an orchestra I think is complete magic. It is a funny thing because we talk about classical music, I would almost prefer to talk about orchestral music. Even people who are not very interested in Beethoven or Brahms, are incredibly familiar with the music, you are watching a film… even nowadays with these amazing machines, they still choose to record the music with the orchestras – it’s because there’s something about the sound. This is something that is for everybody.”

“To be an orchestral musician was something I could not stop doing. When I look at young kids playing with an orchestra is the best thing ever.”

While in Australia, Martin plans to work with the Melbourne Youth Orchestra.

“An orchestra is a micro-cosmos of life, of how to behave in life. As an educational tool I think it is invaluable.”


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