Toby Thatcher

Toby Thatcher

50 Years 50 Careers 2023

Q. When did you join SYO? R. 2003Q. What instruments did you play in SYO?R. Oboe/Cor AnglaisQ. What is your favourite memory of  SYO?R. I was extremely lucky to travel with the SYO on a tour to Spain & Portugal in 2006, one of the youngest members that year amongst a legendary group who were all also in AYO at the time. A ludicrous percentage of that group now have impressive jobs in the music world. It was a huge privilege to learn from them. We performed Tchaikovsky 5 and Shostakovich 5 on that tour (if memory serves) and both remain pieces for which I have soft spots.I was also ludicrously lucky to be in SYO for a couple of beautiful Richard Gil programmes. He was the first person to put a baton in my hand (during an SYO rehearsal of Beethoven’s 5th) after claiming he could see in my eyes that I wanted to try conducting. Richard was to give me a number of private lessons while I was in the position of Assistant Conductor to the Sydney Symphony. He remains a ludicrously important role-model in my life, attitudes to music & general growth. His passing was a tragic loss for current & future generations of musicians in Australia.An amusing memory is from a regional tour with SYO around 2003/4, on which we performed Holst’s The Planets. After a sudden loud chord (which clearly scared the living daylights out of someone in the front row), in the silence that immediately followed, someone was prompted to shout “f**k me* in the most beautiful of regional Australian accents.Q. What role does music play in your life?R. I’m fortunate enough, despite the long odds (made longer by Covid’s presence in the world), to call myself a professional conductor. I’m based in London, and freelancing around the world, building my repertoire & networks, and hopefully learning & improving as a conductor & musician. I have a strong passion for the importance of new music, and the perhaps even greater importance of discussing it (and the different modes of listening it requires) with audiences.Q. What is your favourite musical repertoire from the SYO performances? R. I can only speak as a performer, but I particularly remember playing Tchaikovsky 5, Shostakovich 5, Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring & Mahler’s 3rd (with Max McBride who, by the final page, had tears pouring down his face as he conducted).Q. What advice would you give young musicians  today?  R. Firstly, love the music, and every moment you’re able to be holding it, whether that’s just listening, thinking, learning, rehearsing or performing it. By all means, be ambitious. But a career & a lifestyle will or won’t happen, and it’s chancing are only enhanced by your ability to live in each moment in which you’re involved in music.Also, listen to new music. Talk to composers. Find a curiosity in sounds being conjured by living musicians. Historic repertoire is often why we do what we do, and how we found our way into it. But today’s music represents the future, and opportunities to make that future more inclusive, accessible, varied, exciting & energising.

Toby Thatcher is an Australian/British conductor. He is also co-founder & conductor of Ensemble x.y, Artistic Director of Zeitgeist, & founder & Artistic Director of the Nineteenth Circle.

During the 2022-2023 season Toby will debut with Ensemble Intercontemporain, the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, the Reykjavík Chamber Orchestra & the Dubrovnik Symphony, and return to the Slovenian Philharmonic, Southbank Sinfonia & Sydney Youth Orchestra.

In 2022 Toby was guest Assistant Conductor to the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Between 2020-2021, he was Assistant Conductor to the Orchestre National de France. Between 2018-19, he was mentored by Peter Eötvös. In 2019 he was Conducting Fellow at the Cabrillo Festival, under Cristian Măcelaru. Between 2015-17 Toby was Assistant Conductor to the Sydney Symphony Orchestra (under David Robertson) as well as being invited by the London Philharmonic Orchestra as guest assistant to Vladimir Jurowski.

Toby has worked with ensembles internationally including Orchestre National de France, hr-Sinfonieorchester Frankfurt, Ensemble Modern, Slovenian Philharmonic, Croatian Radiotelevision Symphony Orchestra, Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Sinfonieorchester Basel, Korean Symphony Orchestra, Panon Philharmonic, Riot Ensemble, Auckland Philharmonia & Queensland Symphony Orchestra.

Toby has been invited as guest speaker by the Royal Academy of Music, University of the Arts London & the British Association of Romantic Studies. He has appeared on BBC Radio 3 & the ABC.

Toby graduated from the Royal Academy of Music with an MA in Music Performance. As an orchestral musician he performed regularly with the London Philharmonia, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, & London Sinfonietta.



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