The Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra and the West Australian Symphony Orchestra announce the appointment of Elena Schwarz as Assistant Conductor for both TSO and WASO in 2017. The young Swiss-Australian conductor will be mentored by TSO Chief Conductor and Artistic Director Marko Letonja and WASO Principal Conductor and Artistic Adviser Asher Fisch. This appointment marks the first joint Assistant Conducting position between two major Australian orchestras.
Elena Schwarz studied at the Geneva University of Music in the class of Laurent Gay, subsequently specialising in contemporary performance with Arturo Tamayo at the Conservatorio della Svizzera Italiana. A member of Symphony Services International’s Conductor Development Program since 2013, Elena Schwarz has participated in conducting courses with Asher Fisch, Christopher Seaman, Johannes Fritzsch and Giordano Bellincampi. She was awarded first prize at the “Princess Astrid” competition with the Trondheim Symphony Orchestra (Norway) and the second prize at the 2015 Jorma Panula competition in Vaasa (Finland).
During 2017 Elena will divide her time between Hobart (TSO), Perth (WASO) and other engagements in Europe. She will be actively engaged with both TSO and WASO. Beyond assisting the Chief Conductor of the TSO and the Principal Conductor of WASO, she will present pre-concert talks and will participate in education activities and patron events.
Elena will conduct the TSO in a number of performances, including an overture in the Ode to Nellie Melba series of concerts, a Family Classics concert, the Australian Composers’ School final workshop, and recordings for the National Women’s Composer Development Program. Elena will also conduct the Tasmanian Youth Orchestra in their first major concert of the year on 9 April 2017.
Elena follows previous assistant conductor Christopher Dragon at WASO. She will participate in masterclass sessions with Asher Fisch and WASO, and conduct rehearsals for the West Australian Youth Orchestra.
For TSO, Elena represents an important extension of the orchestra’s strong commitment to Conductor training in Australia, a commitment established over the last 20 years.
“We have crafted a carefully planned Assistantship for Elena, with plenty of opportunities to conduct the orchestra from the podium”, said Marko Letonja, Chief Conductor of the TSO. “This is the first Assistant Conductor position to be appointed at the TSO, and we are delighted that the first such appointment is a female conductor.”
“We’re passionate about nurturing the next generation of young and emerging artists”, said Craig Whitehead, Chief Executive of WASO. “Our own Principal Conductor was once the assistant of acclaimed conductor Daniel Barenboim, and it’s vital we perpetuate this mentoring tradition. This is a unique opportunity for a talented young conductor to be mentored by two highly experienced maestros.”
At TSO Elena will be supported through the generous bequest of the late Dr Louise Crossley, who designated her gift to support the development of women conductors with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra. At WASO Elena’s position will be funded through the Simon Lee Foundation, which aspires to build an alumni body of young artists in WA that can connect, create and support each other.
See also: Limelight: Australia’s Classical Music and Arts Magazine, January 10th 2017.