Sir Donald Runnicles knows all too well the transformative power of live music.

He grew up listening to his father William lead church choirs in Edinburgh, bringing dozens of disparate voices together as one. He experienced it as a teenager when he heard Leonard Bernstein conduct the London Symphony Orchestra in Mahler’s Second Symphony at Edinburgh’s Usher Hall, a performance that changed the course of his life forever.

“I know it’s such a cliché, but the rest is history,” says Runnicles. “It changed my outlook. I just knew that my life had to do – had to do – something involving this sound world. I wanted to live in that sound world literally, viscerally.”

Sir Donald Runnicles. Photo © Craig Abercrombie

That transformative power is what Runnicles has sought to share with audiences across the globe over the course of his remarkable career, creating powerful collective experiences that leave the listener forever changed.

Sydney audiences have been fortunate to experience this many times over the course of Runnicles’ decades-long association with the Sydney Symphony, and ever more so since his appointment as the Orchestra’s first-ever Principal Guest Conductor back in 2019 guaranteed multiple...