George Ellis conducted at the Opening Ceremony of the Sydney Olympic Games with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and the Millennium Choir for an international television audience of 3.8 billion people. He has conducted for Queen Elizabeth II on live national television and has been Musical Director and Conductor for special events around Australia and internationally including the Athens Olympics, the Jakarta Arts Festival, Music by Moonlight concert series in Brisbane and Sydney Olympic Park, the NSW Premier’s Australia Day Luncheon and for the Sydney Festival including many concerts at the Famous Spiegeltent. He was Musical Director for the Athens Olympic Torch Relay concerts at the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Olympic Park. He has conducted at the ARIA Awards on many occasions, the ARIA Hall of Fame and Australian Songwriters Awards, the Suzuki International Conference Gala Concert and at many major sporting events including the NRL Grand Final, State of Origin, AFL Grand Final Victory celebrations for the Sydney Swans, the Ashes Opening Day at the Sydney Cricket Ground and the Davis Cup Opening Ceremony for Tennis Australia.
In concert, he has conducted the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra in Kuala Lumpur, the Queensland Symphony, Tasmanian Symphony, West Australian Symphony Orchestra and Orchestra Victoria. His concerts have been broadcast on national radio including the world premiere of Matthew Hindson’s Violin Concerto.
Popular Music Artists
He has conducted for internationally renowned performers including Lou Reed, Sneaky Sound System, The Church, Art Vs Science, Human Nature, Augie March, GangGagang, David Campbell, John Williamson, Marcia Hines, Caroline O’Connor, Simon Burke, Alex Lloyd, Deborah Conway, John Paul Young, Jimmy Little, Troy Casser-Daley, Georgie Parker, Clare Bowditch, Jade MacRae, Felicity Urqhuart, Ian Stenlake, Doug Parkinson, Grace Knight, Don Spencer, Guy Sebastian, Paulini, Casey Donovan and Anthony Callea as well as the international contemporary recording artist from Greece, George Dalaras.
Soloists for his classical music performances include Diana Doherty, Simon Tedeschi, Jane Rutter, Kathryn Selby, Michael Lewis, Catherine Carby, Geoffrey Chard, Penelope Mills, Joan Carden, Gregory Massingham, Deborah Riedel, Margaret Schindler, Jane Parkin, Narelle Yeo, Anna Dowsley, Sarah Crane, Shaun Brown, Karen Hawkins, Deborah Cheetham and Gerard Willems. He was Musical Director for David Hobson’s concerts at the Sydney Opera House.
He was Musical Director for Sugar: Some Like It Hot for The Production Company (Melbourne), Snugglepot and Cuddlepie directed by Neil Armfield for Belvoir Street Theatre (Sydney, Perth and Adelaide) and was Associate Musical Director for the national touring production of Man of La Mancha starring Anthony Warlow and Assistant Conductor to Brian Stacey for John Frost’s production of The Secret Garden. He was Musical Director for West End to Broadway concert starring Mitchell Butel. He has also conducted university and non-professional productions of West Side Story, Into the Woods, Guys and Dolls, The Gondoliers, Hot Mikado, Little Shop of Horrors, Grease, Children of Eden and the world premiere of Auf Wiedersehen Lulu.
He was Assistant Conductor to Simone Young for Opera Australia’s production of La Traviata and has conducted many opera concerts including Opera on the Beach starring David Hobson, Opera Under the Stars at Rivendell and at the International Regatta Centre in Penrith. He was Musical Director for operatic ensemble The Ten Sopranos. He has also prepared David Hobson and Taryn Fiebig for performances in Melbourne’s Opera In the Market.
Film and Television
He conducted Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring for the Bruce Beresford film Mao’s Last Dancer and the recorded the soundtrack to the Japanese movie The Tower of Druaga. He has appeared on ABC TV’s Sunday Arts, Stateline, Triple J TV and Playschool and has performed on Channel 9’s Today Show, Channel 7’s Sunrise and Sydney Weekender, on SBS Television for the ARIA Hall of Fame, on the Ovation channel and Music Max for concerts at the Sydney Opera House. He conducted Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik with the Sydney Opera House String Orchestra live on Channel 9’s Kerri-Anne Kennerly show and The Prayer for Queen Elizabeth II for the Melbourne Commonwealth Games celebrations live on ABC TV.
His orchestral and choral arrangement of the Olympic Anthem was included in the CD and DVD of the Official Music from the Opening Ceremony of the Sydney Olympic Games. He has recorded orchestral and string arrangements for many artists including Australian songwriters Alex Lloyd, Martin Kennedy’s All India Radio and has conducted for the Australian Youth Choir recordings with Darryl Cotton. He has released two children’s CDs: Clap Your Hands with Big G and Sounds Like Fun.
He has presented concerts conducting in Paris, London, Amsterdam, Brussels, New York, Boston Philadelphia, Washington DC, Los Angeles, Athens, Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta. He has performed in every capital city in Australia and toured with the Sydney Opera House Orchestra around NSW.
Composition and Musical Arrangements
He received first prize in orchestral composition for Pop Mass at the Sydney Eisteddfod. His piece Celebration Overture received its world premiere by the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra in Kuala Lumpur. He has composed over 200 songs for the Sydney Opera House Babies Proms series. His musicals Matters of Consequence and I Can Hear Myself Speak were performed by the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and he was commissioned by Carnivale to compose an orchestral work for its festival launch. He has also been orchestrator and musical arranger for artists such as Alex Lloyd, Steve Kilbey, The Church, Robert James, Butterfly 9 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 and has presented concerts for youth and school audiences around Australia with orchestras including the Queensland Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra Victoria, Sydney Sinfonia, the Penrith Symphony Orchestra and the Sydney Youth Orchestra. He has lectured at prestigious music institutions including the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, Canberra School of Music and the Australian Institute of Music and has presented workshops in Music Theatre and Singing for NIDA in Sydney and Conducting and World Music for the Australian Society for Music Education in Brisbane and Hobart. He is a regular guest conductor and orchestral workshop presenter and schools around NSW. He has conducted the university orchestras of Colorado, New South Wales, Newcastle and Macquarie. He is the Musical Director of the Sydney University Symphony Orchestra and the Australian Youth Choir, NSW. He is an Ambassador for the Australian Children’s Music Foundation.
Academic Qualifications and Study
He graduated as Student of the Year in the Bachelor of Music Education program at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. He then studied Conducting with Keith Lockhart and gained a Master of Music Education degree from the University of Colorado. He studied Conducting and Musical Theory with Richard Gill. He also studied conducting from international conductors Gustav Meier, David Porcelijn, Isaiah Jackson, Gianluigi Gelmetti, Lawrence Kaptein, Robert Olson and studied composition with Leonardo Ballada at Carnegie-Mellon University, Pittsburgh.
Honours and Awards
He received first prize for Orchestral and Choral composition Pop Mass in the Sydney Eisteddfod. His portrait by award-winning Evert Ploeg was entered in the Archibald Prize recognising subjects distinguished in Art, Letters, Science or Politics. The portrait was hung at the NSW Art Gallery as finalist in 2007 and won the People’s Choice award in Sydney and Melbourne for that year.