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Zelman Symphony appoints Rick Prakhoff as
Artistic Director and Principal Conductor

The Zelman Memorial Symphony Orchestra, one of Melbourne’s leading community orchestras and certainly its most daring and ambitious, is delighted to announce the appointment of Rick Prakhoff as its new Artistic Director and Principal Conductor for 2018, its 85th anniversary year. Rick takes over from Mark Shiell who is leaving to further his career as a flautist after holding the position for eight years.

Prakhoff brings to Zelman Symphony his significant conducting experience across all genres, with a repertoire spanning orchestral, operatic, musical theatre and choral music, all of which he plans to draw on when planning the coming year. ‘There is so much wonderful repertoire available to an orchestra of this calibre that it’s difficult to know where to begin when planning a season!’ said Prakhoff. ‘Zelman Symphony has set challenging precedents with its adventurous programming in the last few years – something I plan to continue. It is an absolute privilege to be chosen to take the reins of a community orchestra with both a strong historical connection to Melbourne and such a thriving musical presence in Melbourne today.’ You can read Rick’s bio below or via Rick Prakhoff - Conductor.

In preparing to hand over to Prakhoff, Mark Shiell said, ‘I have enjoyed a great period of my musical life being part of the concerts, growth and development of Zelman Symphony since late 2009. The highlights are numerous. For grandeur of scale there was, of course, our Mahler Symphony No. 8 performances with 580 performers on stage, including eight of Australia’s best opera singers as soloists. There was also our Sidney Myer Music Bowl concert before a crowd of over 7,000 people, and there have been many unforgettable performances of major works.

‘If I were to select just one standout performance from this time, it would unquestionably be the Shostakovich Symphony No. 13 performance this September with Adrian Tamburini as soloist, performed before a sell-out audience in Hamer Hall who gave us a standing ovation. That’s a concert I’ll never forget. Conducting Zelman Symphony has allowed me to be part of a meaningful community of music making and sharing. The spectacular growth of the orchestra and the passion and commitment of its players and committee means that I leave with a wonderful feeling that the orchestra and its community will be going from strength to strength. With such a great history, it makes me very happy to see that their future also looks so bright.’

Shiell’s last concert conducting Zelman Symphony will be in the Melbourne Recital Centre accompanying Hoang Pham playing two major piano concertos in the one concert. Details are at Hoang's Concerto Concert with Zelman Symphony.

Daniel Kirkham, President of the orchestra, said, ‘The orchestra is proud that under Mark's leadership, Zelman Symphony will have played in all of Melbourne’s major concert venues: Hamer Hall, Sidney Myer Music Bowl, Melbourne Recital Centre and Melbourne Town Hall, in nearly all cases by invitation. We look forward to similar success with Rick.’

Rick Prakhoff - Conductor

Rick is an extremely versatile conductor, having come to conducting from a background as a concert classical guitarist via a brief but significant flirtation as an operatic baritone.

Following his time in Perth and London studying classical guitar, Rick returned to Perth to study as a conducting major for his BMus at the WA Conservatorium of Music (WAAPA) before moving to Melbourne to seek out performance opportunities.

His training continued through the Symphony Australia Young Conductor programme where for five years he studied intensively with renowned conducting teachers Gustav Meier (Switzerland/USA), Noam Sherif (Israel), Vernon Handley (UK) and Johannes Fritsch (Germany/Australia) with the WA Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra Victoria, Queensland SO, Adelaide SO and the Australian Opera & Ballet Orchestra. Rick has conducted extensively in Australia with ensembles including Melbourne Opera, The Sydney Youth Orchestra, Zelman Symphony, Melbourne Sinfonia and Stonnington Symphony.

Since 2009, Rick has been a sessional lecturer in conducting and conductor of the 200 plus choir for the Faculty of the VCA and Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, where he continues his advocacy for thorough training of young conductors in orchestral, choral and operatic repertoire and techniques. In 2014, following the passing of revered conductor and conducting teacher John Hopkins the previous year, Rick was honoured to be invited to continue the very successful and popular Honours conducting course instigated by Hopkins.

Rick has an extensive orchestral, operatic and choral repertoire ranging from baroque through to contemporary works and he has a particular interest in adapting historical techniques and performance practice to the contemporary orchestra.

Rick formed the highly successful 170 voice Melbourne Bach Choir in 2006, now in its eleventh year. Rick is delighted to have been chosen as Zelman Symphony’s Artistic Director and Principal Conductor for 2018.

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Page last modified on October 25, 2017, at 09:44 PM