George Ellis – Conductor, Composer and Musical Arranger
George Ellis’ illustrious career includes conducting the Sydney Symphony Orchestra at the Opening Ceremony of the Sydney Olympic Games for an international television audience of 3.8 billion people, conducting for Queen Elizabeth II on live national television and performing with artists including Lou Reed for international arts festivals.
He has been Musical Director for special events around Australia and internationally for many years. Highlights include the Athens Olympics, the Jakarta Arts Festival, Music by Moonlight concert series in Brisbane and Sydney Olympic Park, and the Sydney Festival including many concerts at the Famous Spiegeltent.
In concert, he has conducted many orchestras including the Malaysian Philharmonic, the Tasmanian Symphony, the Queensland Symphony and the West Australian Symphony Orchestra – the latter in conjunction with popular band Augie March. He has conducted popular music and symphony orchestras in combination with artists including Human Nature, David Campbell, Caroline O’Connor, Marcia Hines, Simon Burke, Guy Sebastian and Anthony Callea. Soloists for his classical music performances include Diana Doherty, Simon Tedeschi, David Hobson, Kathryn Selby, Jane Rutter, Gerard Willems, Joan Carden and Deborah Riedel.
His stage and screen work includes conducting The Rite of Spring by Stravinsky for the Bruce Beresford film Mao’s Last Dancer, the soundtrack to the Japanese movie The Tower of Druaga and as Musical Director for musical theatre production Snugglepot and Cuddlepie for Belvoir Street Theatre, Associate Musical Director for Man of La Mancha starring Anthony Warlow and Assistant Conductor to Simone Young for Opera Australia’s production of La Traviata. His concerts have also been broadcast on national radio including the world premiere of Matthew Hindson’s Violin Concerto.
George Ellis received first prize in orchestral composition at the Sydney Eisteddfod. His piece Celebration Overture received its world premiere by the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra in Kuala Lumpur. He has also been orchestrator and musical arranger for artists such as Alex Lloyd and for the Copenhagen National Radio Orchestra.
He has been Musical Director and Composer for the Babies Proms orchestral series at the Sydney Opera House for many years and has presented concerts for children around Australia with orchestras including the Queensland Symphony, Orchestra Victoria, Sydney Sinfonia and the Sydney Youth Orchestra. He has lectured at prestigious music institutions including the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and the Canberra School of Music and has presented workshops in Music Theatre and Conducting for NIDA and the Australian Society for Music Education. He is the Musical Director of the Sydney University Symphony Orchestra and the Australian Youth Choir in NSW.
In 2010, he worked closely with Lindy Hume, Director of the Sydney Festival, on productions including Opera Australia’s Candide and Opening Night.
He toured to Europe with the Australian Youth Choir to perform in Paris, Amsterdam, Brussels and London. He was also Musical Director of the Australian premiere for The Production Company’s stage production of Sugar; Some Like it Hot in Melbourne.
In 2011, he has toured the USA with the Australian Youth Choir. He conducted the symphony orchestra for the 30th Anniversary concert for iconic Australian rock music group The Church at the Sydney Opera House. And he conducted The Queensland and Tasmanian Symphony Orchestras for performances with legendary Australian singer and songwriter, John Williamson.
Ursula Nelius – Guest Concertmaster 5 May 2013
Ursula Nelius is one of Australia’s most respected violinists who performs regularly with the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra as well as the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.
Ursula began violin studies at the age of 4 with the Suzuki Violin method, later studying with Mr Yasuki Nakamura and was a long time member of the Sydney and Australian Youth Orchestras. Ursula completed her Bachelor of Music degree at Sydney Conservatorium of Music under the tutelage of Harry Curby and Dr Anthony Doheny after which she travelled to San Francisco to complete her Masters of Music degree studying with Ian Swenson and Mark Sokol in chamber music. During her time there she participated in masterclasses with Leon Fleischer, Yo-Yo Ma and the Julliard String quartet, won 3rd prize in the Fort Collins Concerto Competition Colorado and attended Schleswig-Holstein and Tanglewood music festivals where she was a valued principal player.
Following her studies in the USA Ursula travelled to Munich Germany where she performed, recorded and toured with the Munich Radio Orchestra, Munich Symphoniker, Orchester der Klang Verwaltung, Bavarian Chamber Orchestra and won a first violin position with the Staatstheatre am Gaertnerplatz .
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Rob Nijs – Assistant Conductor
Rob Nijs (violin/viola) studied at the conservatories of Tilburg (the Netherlands) and Brussels (Belgium) and holds both teaching and performance diplomas. Rob Nijs has had extensive experience playing in Europe before coming to Australia, where he has been working as concerto soloist, concertmaster and leader, and in recitals and chamber music. He has made many recordings for radio, television and on disc. He continues to perform with the various chamber and symphony orchestras in Sydney as well as session work. As a fine and recognised teacher he has been teaching pupils in primary, secondary and tertiary institutions. He also has been in demand as examiner and adjudicator for Eisteddfods and String competitions. Rob Nijs is heavily involved in coaching chamber music as well as workshops and master classes throughout Australia. He studied conducting in Amsterdam and has had broad experience as Conductor and Musical Director. Rob Nijs is currently Head of Strings at the Music Department of Sydney Grammar School.