22 Feb 2024

News 2024

Sir Jonathan Mills’s Illustrious Career

Musician and composer Jonathan Mills returned to College in January and had the opportunity to visit the Waddy Centre during its construction. Jonathan was in College in 1981 and during his BMus at Sydney University he studied under Australian composer Peter Sculthorpe AO OBE.

Between 1992 and 2003 he made a significant contribution to Australian  music through RMIT, firstly as research fellow and composer in residence, and studying a Master of Architecture, focusing on acoustic design and the role of sound in the built environment.  Between 1998 and 2003 he was an adjunct professor. He was Vice-Chancellor’s (Professorial) Fellow at the University of Melbourne, director of the Alfred Deakin Lectures and an artistic advisor to the Melbourne Recital Centre (including Elisabeth Murdoch Hall).

As a composer his works includes two operas, an oratorio, a ballet, song cycles, concertos, and chamber music. In 2001 he wrote Sandakan Threnody, an oratorio for tenor, choir and orchestra, and in 2005 it was awarded the Prix Italia.

He was the artistic director of music festivals in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne and in 2006 he was appointed director and chief executive of the Edinburgh International Festival. His term was twice extended, and concluded at the end of 2014.

Sir Jonathan has been recognised with the Australian Centenary of Federation Medal (2003), an honorary doctorate of the University of Stirling (2008), appointed Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (2010), appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO), “for distinguished service to the performing arts as a composer and director of international festivals, through the promotion of cultural exchange, and to public debate” (2011), an honorary doctor of the University of Edinburgh (2012), he was knighted in the UK Queen’s Birthday Honours of 2013, appointed Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, France (2013), awarded the Zasłużony Kulturze – Gloria Artis medal of Poland (2013), an honorary doctorate of letters by the University of St Andrews (2013), an honorary doctorate of arts by RMIT University (2013), an honorary doctorate of music by the University of Sydney (2015).

The College community is indeed fortunate to have amongst is alumni one in Sir Jonathan who has made such an important contribution to the world of music which has been so well recognised in Europe and Australia.