Conductor Nicholas Milton and his violinist wife Rosa Donata are coming ‘home’ to Willoughby for two landmark concerts at The Concourse.

When long-time Northbridge local Nicholas Milton takes to the stage alongside his German-born violinist wife, Rosa Donata Milton, it will be a true merging of Australian talent and international musical genius.

Dr Milton is chief conductor of Willoughby Symphony Orchestra, set to play Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique at Chatswood’s Concourse in July.

It will be a career highlight for Nicholas, and also a personal and emotional crescendo, he says. “I could not be more thrilled to be making music with my wife, Rosa Donata, concertmaster of the Philharmonic Orchestra of Jena, Germany,” he tells North Shore Living.

While Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique Opus 14 – which draws inspiration from Goethe’s Faust – will feature in the programme, Rosa will also appear on stage with Nicholas to perform Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s ‘exquisite’ Violin Concerto in D Major, Opus 35.

Described as a ‘landmark event for the community,’ Fantastique marks not only 50 years since the start of the Orchestra’s subscription programme, but also Dr Milton’s third decade as artistic director and chief conductor. A ‘wonderful’ upbringing on the Lower North Shore, attending Lane Cove Public School and Chatswood Primary, which are both known for their strong music programmes, set Nicholas on his musical path. He started with the violin.

A chapter in New York saw Nicholas dipping a toe into the world of conducting as a violin doctoral student at the Juilliard School, and it was here that he felt his passion lay. When Australia’s siren song drew him home, he took up the position of concertmaster of the Adelaide Symphony and violinist in the chamber music ensemble, Macquarie Trio.

Describing the Willoughby Symphony Orchestra as the ‘backbone’ of his musical life in Sydney, Nicholas says that the inspiration he draws from his colleagues is ‘incomparable with anything else.’ “I grew up with these musicians and we are a huge family, so the energy we get when we perform together is fantastic.”

It is this energy and passion that will ensure Fantastique will shine as a work of ‘astonishing colour and vibrancy,’ Nicholas tells North Shore Living, describing conducting the orchestra as a ‘profound pleasure,’ and as ‘fresh and exciting today as it was the first time I conducted them some thirty-five years ago.’

Rosa Donata, one of Germany’s top violinists, is known for her interpretations of the major violin concertos of the 20th Century, from Barber and Bernstein, to Prokofiev, Shostakovich and Vasks. Today, the musical duo is based mainly in Europe, where Nicholas is the chief conductor of the Gottinger Symphony Orchestra in Germany and the State Opera House of Carinthia in Klagenfurt, Austria.

However, it’s the Lower North Shore that will always be home. “I truly hope I can conduct the magnificent Willoughby Symphony Orchestra for another 30 years, as there is no doubt that audiences feel the magic when we are all together in our beautiful concert hall.”

Fantastique will be performed on Saturday 29 July at 7pm and Sunday 30 July at 2pm on the Concert Hall stage at The Concourse, Chatswood. Book tickets online at The Concourse website or phone 8075 8111.



By Catherine Lewis