The West Australian Symphony Orchestra has extended its engagement with one of Australia’s most talented young conductors, Jen Winley, elevating her to the position of Associate Conductor.

The two-year appointment sees Winley become the first Associate Conductor in the organisation’s history.

Jen Winley. Photo courtesy Queensland Symphony Orchestra

“I am so happy to be offered the role of WASO Associate Conductor for 2024,” Winley said. “It is an incredible opportunity to continue my relationship with WASO in an expanded capacity. I am grateful to be able to continue to work with and learn from Asher Fisch and am really looking forward to all the great projects lined up for 2024.”

Winley’s rise has been close to meteoric. Following a career as percussionist and music educator, Winley was a participant in WASO’s 2020 and 2021 Emerging Conductors program, and made her professional conducting debut while still part of the program in 2020. She went on become WASO’s Assistant Conductor in 2022, conducting 12 concerts and a further 24 concerts in 2023.

She quickly established herself as a versatile conductor, making her film conducting debut in 2021 with WASO for Home Alone in Concert. The following year, Winley became a member of an exclusive group of conductors around the world who are approved to conduct Disney in Concert events, going on to lead WASO in Toy Story in Concert in January 2023.

Winley has also excelled in leading cross-genre performances and projects, including leading WASO in videos were produced for WASO’s collaboration with Perth hip-hop artist Drapht. Winley conducted the world premiere performances of Drapht and WASO: How The West Was Won in Perth in 2022 and also led the regional productions in Kalgoorlie and Karratha in 2023.

On the mainstage, Winley made her conducting debut with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra in 2023 and in 2024 will make her debut with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, alongside her MACA Classics series conducting debut with WASO for Scheherazade at Perth Concert Hall.

The new role of Associate Conductor will see Winley conduct more mainstage performances, lead two of WASO’s flagship Artist Development and Community programs, and continue to receive mentorship from WASO’s Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor, Asher Fisch.

“I have seen Jen’s skills progress rapidly over the last two years and it will be fantastic to deepen our relationship with her in 2024,” said Fisch. “Jen is a natural talent – to have secured engagements with three of the State Orchestras so early in her conducting career is testament to her ability and I look forward to seeing her career continue to develop on the national and international stage.”

WASO’s ongoing investment in emerging artists ensures that talented local musicians such as Winley have a professional pathway into their chosen artistic profession.

Alongside the Associate Conductor role, WASO’s Artist Development programs include the Composer in Residence position, Composition Project, the Australian Conducting Academy, the WASO Conducting Fellowship, and three side-by-side orchestral programs with student and community musicians.

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