Julian Smiles returns to the Australian Youth Orchestra this year as a world-renowned cellist, but 30 years ago he was sat amongst other young Australian cellists at AYO National Music Camp!

Man with cello smiling sitting in a bench

These days Julian’s career is based in chamber music, solo and orchestral performance, and recording extensively in Australia and overseas. He is also in demand as a teacher and has enjoyed mentoring gifted students for organisations including AYO and the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.

Julian is one of countless AYO alumni to return to the organisation later in their careers. In 1995 Julian formed the highly successful Goldner String Quartet, who featured as AYO’s ensemble-in-residence at this year’s AYO Chamber Players program.

So what is it that inspires so many alumni to give back to AYO? Julian recalls working with Maestro Christoph Eschenbach as one of his AYO highlights: ‘Maestro Eschenbach never talked down to us – he always treated us as equals.’ It is this sentiment that is so important to many returning AYO alumni. Being able to relate to the next generation of budding young musicians is what inspires them to share their knowledge.

Julian’s next engagement with AYO is later this month, performing alongside Momentum Ensemble in their upcoming concert, Seven Last Words. Under the directorship of virtuoso accordionist James Crabb, the concert will explore a range of intriguing genres; something that Julian is passionate about: ‘Push yourself to try new musical experiences. If you’re a chamber musician, play with an orchestra. If you’re an orchestral player, try solo work. And always remember why we make music; to make people feel emotion, to move people.’