WPO GUEST CONDUCTORS - 2019
John Buckley has enjoyed a long, successful career as a conductor, multi-instrumentalist, adjudicator, clinician and music educator spanning thirty five years. He began his professional musical career at the age of sixteen in the Australian Defence Force serving in many locations throughout Australia and overseas in the Australian Army and Royal Australian Air Force before his selection to train as a music director for appointment in the Royal Australian Air Force in 1994.
On graduation, he was awarded the prize in conducting and Dux of the Music Director Course. In 1999, he was appointed Commanding Officer and Music Director of the RAAF Air Command Band in Sydney until its disbandment in 2009. He proudly led this band on successful tours of New Zealand, East Timor, Gallipoli, Iraq, Afghanistan and throughout Australia. He also led the band during the 2000 Sydney Olympic and Paralympics Games and Federation Celebrations in 2001. John was selected on two occasions to participate in the Symphony Australia Conductor's Program in which he conducted the Queensland, Adelaide and Tasmanian Symphony Orchestras. John has continued to pursue his passion for music education completing a Bachelor of Music Education at the University of Sydney in 2011 and in the same year, he was appointed Music Director of the Corrective Services NSW Band. He is also the conductor of the Senior and Junior Bands at Pennant Hills High School in Sydney. John has been the Music Director of both the Sydney Wind Symphony and the Wind Symphony at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, an active clinician and adjudicator for the Sydney Eisteddfod, Engadine Band Festival, and the NSW School Band Festival.
This will be John's second appearance with the WPO having previously conducted the Orchestra in 2017.
Thomas Tsai is a very active and highly regarded music educator, teaching cello at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music at both tertiary and secondary level. He also coordinates the Conservatorium High School Chamber Music with his wife Felicity Tsai, in addition to tutoring the elite ensembles. Thomas has taught cello and chamber music at the Newcastle Conservatorium, The Australian Institute of Music, Conservatorium Foundation Department (University of Sydney) and Conservatorium Access Centre, and in 2013 has been named Chief Conductor of the SBS Radio and Television Youth Orchestra. In 2014, he was the Co-Founder and Artistic Director of the North Sydney Youth Symphony, roles which he has continued in the New South Wales Youth Orchestras.
As an acclaimed and highly sought after teacher, Tsai's students have been prize winners of numerous awards including the prestigious Ku-ring-gai Concerto Competition and Sydney Symphony Sinfonia, before continuing their post-graduate studies internationally. His students also excel at secondary level, having won scholarships to all the prestigious Sydney private schools: PLC Pymble, PLC Croyden, St Andrew’s Cathedral School, MLC Burwood, Newington College, Sydney Grammar School, Shore Grammar, Trinity College, Barker College, Meriden, Tara, Ravenswood and Roseville College.
Thomas graduated from the prestigious University of Southern California, where he was selected for the internationally acclaimed "Gregor Piatigorsky Cello Class upon invitation by American Cellist Lynn Harrell. He has performed in masterclasses with André Navarra, Raphael Wallfisch, Eleonore Schoenfeld, Siegfried Palm and Lynn Harrell. He was the first recipient of the American Symphony Scholarship for outstanding musical performance, performing solo recitals and as soloist with the Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra, Santa Monica Symphony Orchestra and Conservatorium Symphony Orchestra.
Tsai has recorded for the ABC Classic FM and 2MBSFM, as both a soloist and a chamber musician for broadcasts and recordings. He is held in high regard both as a soloist and chamber music performer, performing regular recitals, and was a co-founder of the Apollo Piano Trio with Daniel Herscovitch and Maria Lindsay, touring from 2005 to 2009 with chamber music recitals and solo appearances with orchestras performing Beethoven Triple Concerto. A CD recording of Australian Piano Trios was released in 2013 on the Wirripang label.
Thomas performs on a 1690 Giovanni Grancino and a 1934 AE. Smith.