James Pensini

50 Years 50 Careers 

Q. When did you join SYO? R. 2002 and 2010 was my last yearQ. What instruments did you play in SYO?R. Trumpet

Q. What is your favourite memory of  SYOR. My favourite memory as a player was definitely the 2006 Spain and Portugal Tour. A particular highlight of this tour was starting the performance of Shostakovich 5 somewhere around midnight in a huge outdoor amphitheatre after everyone had had their siesta for the day!Q. What role does music play in your life?R. Well as the Head of Orchestral Training and Community Engagement at SYO and Head of Music Performance P-12 at Santa Sabina College, a pretty huge role! I feel very privileged to be able to pass on to future generations so many things that I was lucky enough to learn at SYO from people like Richard Gill, Russell Hammond, Max McBride, Ron Prussing and Paul Goodchild.Q. What is your favourite musical repertoire from the SYO performances? R. Mahler 3Shostakovich 5Mahler 5Beethoven 5 (with Richard Gill)Tchaikovsky 5Q. What advice would you give young musicians  today?  R. Work hard and work smart making sure that you have great musical mentors around you with whom you can be totally transparent. Enjoy your time in Youth Orchestras playing great music with great people as they may very well be the best times of your life! You may even meet your future wife like I did!

James Pensini is one of the leading conductors of youth instrumental music in Australia and alongside his work at Sydney Youth Orchestras he is also Head of Music Performance P-12 at Santa Sabina College. 

James studied trumpet and conducting at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and has performed and toured extensively with many orchestras and ensembles. Performance highlights include performing as Principal Trumpet with the Sydney Youth Orchestra including a tour of Spain and Portugal; performing as Principal Trumpet with the Australian Youth Orchestra including a tour of France, Germany and the Netherlands with pianist Jean Yves Thibaudet; performing as a member of the Sydney Symphony Training Orchestra and performing as Lead Trumpet with the Australian Youth All-Star Big Band including a tour to the Monterey Jazz Festival. James has also taught a significant number of trumpet students, some of whom hold down senior leadership positions in major Australian symphony orchestras.  

As a conductor James has worked in and run many of the finest instrumental music programs for young people at a school and representative level in Australia and has been privileged to lead many international tours to the United States and Europe. James is a former State and National Board member of the Australian Band and Orchestra Directors Association and is regularly called upon as an adjudicator and guest conductor. 

In 2017 James conducted the Sydney Youth Orchestra on a European Tour including workshops with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and in 2020 James was the conductor of “Encounter” an original site specific orchestral and dance work as part of the Sydney Festival. James is the founding conductor of the Western Sydney Youth Orchestra and now conducts the Peter Seymour Orchestra alongside John Ockwell as well as assisting The.Sydney Youth Orchestra on key projects.  

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