Simon Kenway, Guest Conductor
Simon Kenway is an established and highly respected orchestral and operatic conductor. He has held posts as Principal Chorus Master of Opera Australia, Musical Director for Opera in the Vineyards, Opera by George and Opera Under The Stars in Broome, and Conductor and Chief Vocal Coach for the Sydney Conservatorium Opera School. He now works as a freelance conductor, both internationally and in Australia, and in 2015 was appointed Artistic Director of Pacific Opera.
Simon has conducted the Sydney, Tasmanian, West Australian, Canberra and Queensland Symphony Orchestras, for Opera Australia, West Australian Opera, Opera Queensland, The Australian Ballet, Hong Kong Philharmonic, many festivals, Aldeburgh Productions in UK, the Australian Youth Orchestra and Beijing Symphony Orchestra.
In 2018 Simon continues as Artistic Director of Pacific Opera. He will also be Music Director in Sydney Conservatorium’s Open Academy Opera Lab, and he returns to conduct Willoughby Symphony Orchestra, and an Opera Gala for Canberra Symphony Orchestra, followed by chorus master and cover conductor for State Opera of South Australia’s production of Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg, Act 3. Last year Simon conducted The Marriage of Figaro on Regional Tour for Opera Australia, Christmas concerts for QPAC and also concerts with Willoughby Symphony, and the Massed Festival Choir, and Women’s Festival Choirat the Melbourne International Singers Festival, in addition to concerts with Pacific Opera.
Other recent engagements include The Magic Flute for Opera Australia’s Regional Tour and Opera on the Beach performances in Coolangatta and workshops and performances as Conductor and Music Director for Opera Australia’s Community Choirs project from 2012 – 2015. He has also conducted Verdi Requiem for the Australian Intervarsity Choral Festival in Sydney, Orfeo ed Euridice for Spectrum Now Festival (for which he also prepared the Chorus and acted as Music Advisor), The Cunning Little Vixen for Pacific Opera, Hansel and Gretel for AIM, Spirit of Christmas concerts with QSO, Conductor for Rossini’s Cinderella and Associate Conductor for Verdi’s Otello for Opera Queensland, Opera on the Riverstage for the Brisbane Festival and Opera Queensland, and Symphony of Australia at the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra.
Simon has also conducted a series of pop concerts with Anthony Wong, as well as Christmas concerts, for Hong Kong Philharmonic, Rautavaara’s The Gift of the Magi for Canberra International Music Festival, Handel’s Belshazzar’s Feast for Willoughby Symphony, a series of opera chorus workshops for the Festival of Voices in Tasmania and concerts for Canberra Symphony, the Singapore American School and The Schools Concerts for Sydney Symphony. He also conducted OzOpera’s Madama Butterfly for Opera Australia, L’elisir d’amore for City of Perth’s Opera in the Park presented by West Australian Opera and Opera at Brookfield for the Brisbane Festival and was a lecturer at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music from 1991 – 2009.
Further highlights include Music Director for the Act 1 workshop of Cloud Street a new opera by George Palmer, directed by Gale Edwards, Meet in Beijing Arts Festival for Opera Australia in conjunction with the Australian Embassy, Beijing, Bach B Minor Mass for Sydney Philharmonia and Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire for the Art Gallery of NSW.
Long associated with Opera Australia as a Guest Artist, Simon has also conducted performances of Don Giovanni, OzOpera’s La bohème tour, La Traviata, The Mikado, Madama Butterfly, The Barber of Seville, The Magic Flute, Le Nozze di Figaro, Die Fledermaus, The Gondoliers, L’elisir d’amore, Sweeney Todd and an OzOpera concert at Olympic Park. For Opera Australia’s Youth Education programme Simon conducted Kurt Weill’s Down in the Valley, Anne Boyd’s The Little Mermaid and Purcell’s The Indian Queen.
Other prestigious engagements include Graeme Murphy’s new production of Swan Lake, Carmina Burana, Fauré Requiem, Wild Swans, a new ballet choreographed by Meryl Tankard and composed by Elena Kats-Chernin, and The Bella Trilogy for The Australian Ballet, Madama Butterfly and Don Giovanni for West Australian Opera, Carmina Burana and Götterdämmerung (Chorus Director) for Sydney Symphony, George with Sydney Symphony for the 2003 Sydney Festival, Handel’s Messiah with Sydney Philharmonia Choirs, Berlioz Te Deum and Saint-Saëns Organ Symphony for Sydney University Musical Society and Willoughby Symphony Orchestra, Eugene Onegin for Aldeburgh Productions in UK, concerts for The Queensland Orchestra and Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, Pops in the Park with Ben Folds Five for West Australian Symphony Orchestra, Midnite for OzOpera and Windmill Performing Arts in Adelaide, and Stella and the Moon Man for the Australian Youth Orchestra.
As Conductor and Chief Vocal Coach for the Sydney Conservatorium Opera School, he prepared and conducted performances of Puccini’s La Rondine, Gluck’s Iphigenia in Tauris, Ravel’s L’enfant et les Sortileges and Poulenc’s Les Mamelles de Tiresias, Cendrillon, Acis & Galatea, Eugene Onegin, Berkley’s A Dinner Engagement and Larry Sitsky’s De Profundis.
Simon also composes and arranges scores for plays and incidental music. His composition work includes The Rivers of China by Alma de Groen for Australian director Jenny Lang Peach. He also wrote Wild Alone (The Imprisonment of Oscar Wilde) for Opera Apollo and the vocal arrangement for Baz Luhrmann’s album, Something for Everyone. Simon was Musical Director for the first working draft of Baz Luhrmann’s acclaimed movie, Moulin Rouge.
Simon obtained a Bachelor of Music Degree (Piano) and a Post-Graduate Diploma (Opera) from the Queensland Conservatorium of Music before continuing post-graduate studies at the Royal College of Music, London and in Europe with Norman Del Mar, Gennady Rozhdestvensky, Pierre Boulez, Sir Simon Rattle and James Lockhardt. He also trained as a vocal coach with the leading repetiteurs from Covent Garden, English National Opera and Paris Opera. Simon was Chorus Master for Chelsea Opera Group and Artistic Director/Conductor of University College Opera, London. He subsequently conducted Lakmè for University College Opera.