Brisbane-born Chinese-Australian conductor and Principal Conductor of China's Symphony Orchestra, Dane Lam.
Brisbane-born Chinese-Australian conductor and Principal Conductor of China's Symphony Orchestra, Dane Lam. Contributed.

Acclaimed conductor brings celebration to Brisbane

HE TRAVELS the world, lives on three different continents but Dane Lam still calls Brisbane home.

The Brisbane-born Chinese-Australian conductor and Principal Conductor of China's Xi'an Symphony Orchestra has been in his home-town of Brisbane for the past month preparing to conduct the Queensland Symphony Orchestra's World Beat concert on February 9 to celebrate the Year of the Rooster.

"It is great to be back here," he told Seniors Newspaper.

"Brisbane is fantastic."

Dane, who was born and raised in Brisbane, has been acclaimed as 'one of the most talented conductors Australia has produced'.

He divides his time between Xi'an in China, London and Australia and although he would love to make Brisbane his permanent home once again, it does not seem possible with his global commitments.

For now he is content just to spend some time here.

"I love being back home, especially after living in China which is full and busy, the air is quite polluted," he said.

"It is really nice to get off the plane in Australia, to the clean air."

Music has been Dane's life from the moment he could walk and talk.

He began playing piano, clarinet and saxophone as a child, studying at the University of Queensland under Gwyn Roberts.

He conducted most of Australia's professional ensembles before he was 20 and was then propelled into an assistantship with Gianluigi Gelmetti, then Chief Conductor of the Sydney Symphony.

With Gelmetti, Dane led the Sydney Symphony on tour and played at the Sydney Opera House.

He also spent three summers studying at Siena's Accademia Musicale Chigiana.

In the ancient city of Xi'an, the Xi'an Symphony Orchestra has grown under Dane's leadership since he assumed the post of principal conductor in 2014.

The role of conductor for someone so young is something Dane takes in his stride.

"When it works, when everything is in sync and the synergy is there it is the most wonderful feeling in the world," he said.

"People think conducting is just to beat in time, to bring instruments in. But it is about giving a vision of the music that is unified.

"About whether the notes should be a bit shorter or longer, softer, louder...unifying that to get a great performance.

"Every conductor is different. They go about their job in many and varied ways.

"A great conductor is someone who can inspire their orchestra, to convey everything in a gesture to a group of 50, 60 or 70 (musicians), to show in a way that is immediately comprehensible.

Some people think it is some kind of code.

"But it is not that at all, like if someone shows a flat hand, we know that means stop.

"That is what conducting gestures ideally should be like; something understood at a visceral level."

Even though music has been an integral part of his life since birth, it was not until Dane went to Mansfield State High School that he thought music could be a career.

"I thought at first I'd be a jazz pianist, then a composer and then a conductor," he said.

"Up until then I had never thought of it as a career."

The February 9 concert at the Concert Hall at QPAC will see some of China's brightest stars and much-loved Australian artists present an evening of Chinese music and great western masterworks to welcome the Year of the Rooster.

"Chinese New Year is the biggest national holiday in China," Dane said.

"Everybody gets a week holiday, everybody is trying to go back home and the airports and train stations are jammed packed.

"I am pleased to be away from that.

"The program we will present in Brisbane will be a mix, well known Western pieces and some Chinese symphonic music.

"People won't hear anything like this for the rest of the year."

The concert is on Thursday, February 9, starting at 7.30pm in the Concert Hall at QPAC.

For bookings and concert information, go to

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