Perth-raised and Melbourne-based Aaron Wyatt will tonight become the first Indigenous Australian to ever conduct a state orchestra in a public performance, an achievement that might not have always seemed predestined despite playing the violin from age five.

Noongar man Wyatt, who will conduct the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra playing Deborah Cheetham’s 2019 Acknowledgement of Country commission Long Time Living Here, initially studied science and engineering at university, but switched to music at the end of his first year.

Aaron Wyatt MSO

Aaron Wyatt and Deborah Cheetham with Ensemble Dutala members Allara Briggs Pattison, Preston Clifton, Jackson Worley and Maya Hodge at rehearsals for their performance of Long Time Living Here. Photo © Liam Hennebry/Melbourne Symphony Orchestra

“Music was something that I always did, and I was always involved in the youth orchestra, but it was as much a social as a musical thing,” Wyatt, 39, tells Limelight on his way to rehearsals, “so I hadn’t really thought of doing it as a career.”

“But then, around the same time as I was getting out of high school and going into uni, I switched from violin to viola [having gained a youth orchestra viola...