One of the foremost conductors of her generation, Sarah-Grace Williams has received acclaim from audiences and critics alike for her vibrant energy, outstanding musicianship and dynamic presence on the podium.
A Churchill Fellow (2010), Sarah-Grace is Founding Chief Conductor & Artistic Director of The Metropolitan Orchestra, Musical Director & Conductor of the Sydney Opera House Proms Orchestra and is in high demand as a guest conductor, having appeared with the Queensland, Adelaide, West Australian & Tasmanian Symphony Orchestras, Auckland Philharmonia, Bangalow Festival Orchestra, Queensland Music Festival, Southern Cross Soloists, Australian Concert Orchestra and with Artists of Opera Australia, amongst others.
Recently listed by ABC’s Limelight magazine as one of the top 5 Australian conductors to watch out for, she has also held posts as Assistant Conductor for Symphony Australia, Stager Conductor to Alexander Polishchuk at the Ukraine National Opera & Ballet Theatre, Conducting Fellow at the Australian Ballet and has composed and arranged music for numerous productions including those for the Sydney Opera House Proms and Australian Ballet.What did you want to be when you grew up?
I consider myself fortunate that from a very young age I knew I wanted to be a musician when I grew up. I lived and breathed my music as a child and my career was a natural progression from this. I never considered any other path.When did you know you would work in the arts?
I guess I always knew I would be in the arts because I always knew I would be a musician.How would you describe your work to a complete stranger?
My role as conductor is to act as a kind of mediator between the composer and the musicians, with a responsibility to inspire and unify the musicians whilst staying true to the composer’s intention on the page.
I liken my job to a coach of a sports team. In a team of elite athletes, you find people at their prime, the best at what they do and it’s the coach’s job to unify them with the same goal. It is my task to make sure we all have the same game plan.Is there a mission to your work?
To inspire and be inspired. What's your backgorund - are there studies that prepare you for this?
I completed my undergraduate music degree in Sydney followed by postgraduate studies in St Petersburg Russia. What's the first thing career related you usually do each day?
The great thing about my ‘job’ is that every day is different. Some days are rehearsal days, some are concert days and some are study days. But all days start with a super-sized coffee!Can you describe an "average" working day for you?
I don’t have average days but a week will generally consist of rehearsals, meetings, concerts, study, administration and often early morning flights. What else do you do to pay the bills?
Nothing. I am fortunate to make a living from my passion. What's the one thing - piece of equipment, toy, security blanket, – you can't work without?
A pencil.What gets you fired up?
Creativity Who in the industry most inspires you?
I am continually inspired by my industry and many people in it.
If I was to name one person, it would be Sir Simon Rattle (Chief Conductor, Berlin Philharmonic). What in the industry do you despair about?
Where do I start? What is the best thing about your job?
Making music with so many talented and inspiring people. What’s the worst?
I often fly at 6am after a late night of rehearsals/concerts.
This is not a glamorous part of my life! What are the top three skills you need in this industry?
In addition to presumed talent, I would say the three top skills needed are:
Perseverance What advice would you give anyone looking to break into the field?
It’s not an easy path but worth it! Work hard and believe in yourself. Which of the below phrases best suits your career development to date and why?
a. "The road to success is always under construction. "
b. "Opportunity dances with those who are already on the dance floor."
c. "Success is best measured by how far you've come with the talents you've been given. "
d. "No one can cheat you out of ultimate success but yourself."
A and B.
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