Richard Mills is deservedly one of Australia's most sought after composers and music directors. In recent years he has pursued a diverse career as a composer and a conductor, which has seen him working with a large number of the nation's music organisations.

Richard is currently Artistic Director of Victorian Opera. This year he conducts ‘Tis Pity: An Operatic Fantasia, which he also composed and arranged, and La Sonnambula in concert for Victorian Opera. Other engagements will include the 3MBS Mozart Marathon and delivering the 50th Callaway Lecture for the University of Western Australia. He previously held the post of Artistic Director of the West Australian Opera from 1997 – 2012.  In 2008 he was Musica Viva’s Composer of the Year, and from 2002 – 2008 held the post of Director of the Australian Music Project for the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra. Additionally, he works as a freelance conductor throughout Australia and overseas and in 2007/8 was awarded an Ian Potter Foundation Fellowship.

Some of Richard’s most recent conducting engagements include Lucia di Lammermoor and Laughter and Tears (featuring I Pagliacci), The Flying Dutchman, I Puritani, a Mother’s Day concert, La Traviata, Norma, and The Riders (Grandage), a Gala concert at Monash Robert Blackwood Hall, and an ANZAC remembrance concert, for which he had been commissioned to compose a work, as well as composing The Pied Piper, all for Victorian Opera. He conducted the ANZAC remembrance concert for the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra in 2015 and returned to the TSO and the Australian Composers School last year. He has also conducted The Barber of Seville, Norma, Die Fledermaus, La Sonnambula, Peter Grimes and Elektra (West Australian Opera); Proms Concert (Canberra Symphony Orchestra); The Love of the Nightingale (Opera Australia); Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, premiering his new Organ Concerto, and the Australian Youth Orchestra.


Victorian State Opera commissioned Richard to write an opera of Ray Lawler’s Summer of the Seventeenth Doll, which premiered in Melbourne in 1996, and received Sydney performances in the Opera Australia season in 1999. Batavia was commissioned by Opera Australia and premiered at the Melbourne Festival in 2001 to great critical acclaim, consequently receiving a number of Green Room and Helpmann Awards including Best Opera and Best New Australian Work. In 2004, he conducted a revival of Batavia in Perth, when it was presented as a joint production between the Perth International Arts Festival, Opera Australia and West Australian Opera. It was mounted again in the Opera Australia Sydney winter season in 2006. Richard’s third opera, The Love of the Nightingale, premiered at the 2007 UWA Perth International Arts Festival conducted by Richard with further performances in Melbourne for Victorian Opera and Brisbane for Opera Queensland that year. This opera received several nominations for 2007 Helpmann Awards including Best New Australian Work, Best Opera and Best Music Direction and received four Awards including that of Best Music Direction for Richard, and was presented by Opera Australia in Sydney in 2011.

Some of Richard Mills’ most recent compositions include a score for the Australian Ballet and his Passion According to St. Mark which premiered around Australia in 2009.  His song cycle Songlines of the Heart’s Desire received its European premiere at the 2010 Edinburgh Festival and his Organ Concerto was premiered with Calvin Bowman and the Melbourne Symphony in August 2011.  

Other notable conducting engagements have included La Cenerentola for Opera Australia, the world premiere performance of Peter Sculthorpe’s Requiem with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra at the Adelaide Festival, the world premiere of his double concerto for clarinet and violin with the Taipei Symphony Orchestra and a concert performance of Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde with the Australian Youth Orchestra for the Queensland Music Festival, which won a Helpmann Award for Best Classical Concert in 2005.

Richard’s music has found wide acceptance and popularity with musicians and the concert-going public, and his works are regularly performed throughout the world. Compositions range from Concerto for Violin and Viola, Flute Concerto commissioned by James Galway, Earth Poem-Sky for Aboriginal Dancers, Singers, electronic sound and the Darwin Symphony, (also given at the 1998 Adelaide Festival), Soundscapes for Percussion and Orchestra most recently performed by Evelyn Glennie at the City of Birmingham Symphony Proms and also filmed with Miss Glennie and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, music for the ballet Snugglepot and Cuddlepie premiered by The Australian Ballet and later recorded for CD and Fantastic Pantomimes written for the Melbourne Symphony’s tour of Japan.

Commissions for the Sydney Symphony include Tenebrae, Emblems and Totemic Journeys to celebrate Australia’s Centenary of Federation. Requiem Diptych was commissioned and premiered by the Chicago Chamber Musicians Brass in 2001. His symphonic work for the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, The Little Mermaid, was premiered in August 2005.  During his year as Musica Viva’s featured composer, three of his String Quartets were performed by the Goldner, Takács and Jerusalem Quartets and a song cycle, Songlines of the Heart’s Desire was premiered by Peter Coleman-Wright, Cheryl Barker and Piers Lane. Most recently Richard has composed a number of song cycles as part of the Ian Potter Foundation Fellowship.

His CD recording Richard Mills Orchestral Works with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra became a best seller on the ABC Classics label. His three-volume CD of the film music of Franz Waxman with the same orchestra was awarded a Preis der Deutschen Schallplatten Kritik in 1992. He also has an extensive discography of over twenty releases with the Australian symphony orchestras, including a CD of his major orchestral works with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.

Richard Mills continues a high level of involvement in the community through such projects as commissions for the 1982 Commonwealth Games, the 2000 Olympic Games, the Australian Bicentenary re-orchestration of Charles Williams’ Majestic Fanfare (the ABC news theme) and the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.  As an academic he has been Lecturer in Composition and Conducting at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music and Visiting Fellow, University of Melbourne School of Music.  He is currently a Senior Fellow, Faculty of Music, University of Melbourne and Adjunct Professor of Music, University of Queensland Research. In 2009/2010 Richard Mills was the director of the Symphony Australia Composer Development Program, run in collaboration with Orchestra Victoria.


2013- | Artistic Director, Victorian Opera

2009-2010 | Director, Symphony Australia Composer Development Program

2009 | In Perpetuity Director Emeritus Australian Music Program, Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra

2005 | Director, National Music Camp

2004- | Adjunct Professor of Music, University of Queensland.

2004- | Honorary Doctor of Music, University of Queensland

2002-2008 | Director of the Australian Music Project, Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra

2003-2007 | Artistic Consultant, Orchestra Victoria

1998- | Senior Fellow, Faculty of Music, Melbourne University

1997-2012 | Artistic Director, West Australian Opera

1996-1999 | Chair of Music Fund, Australia Council

1995-1999 | Member of the Australia Council for the Arts, Chair Music Fund

1991-1994 | Artistic Consultant, Queensland Symphony Orchestra

1995 & 1997 | Artistic Advisor, Brisbane Biennial Festivals

1991-1997 | Artistic Director, Adelaide Chamber Orchestra

1991 | McGeorge Fellow, University of Melbourne

1989-1990 | Artist-in-Residence at the ABC

1987-1990 | Member of the Performing Arts Board, Australia Council

1987 & 1990 | Artistic Director, Musica Nova Festival of new music in Brisbane

1987 | Artist-in-Residence, The Australian Ballet

1986 | Senior Lecturer, Composition & Conducting, Queensland Conservatorium of Music

1982-1984 | Senior Lecturer, Composition, Southern Cross University

1980-1982 | Principal Percussion, Queensland Symphony Orchestra

1976-1980 | Principal Percussion, Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra


2007 & 2008 | Ian Potter Foundation Fellowship

2007 | Helpmann Award for Best Music Direction for his opera The Love of the Nightingale

2006 | Helpmann Award for Tristan und Isolde Best Classical Concert with the Australian Youth Orchestra

2005 | Ian Potter Foundation award for Established Composers

2003 | Sounds Australian Award for Best Opera

2002 | Helpmann Awards for Batavia including Best New Australian Work and Best Opera

2001 | Green Room Awards for Batavia including Best Production (Opera)

1999 | Awarded an Order of Australia

1997 | Adjunct Professor of Music, University of Queensland Music Department

1997 | Sir Bernard Heinze Award for service to music in Australia

1995 | Don Banks Music Fellowship awarded by the Australia Council

1991 | APRA Award Most Performed Classical Work for Snugglepot & Cuddlepie

1991 | National Critics Award jointly with the Sydney Symphony and Dene Olding for the premiere of the Bozidar Kos Violin Concerto

1989 | National Critics’ Award for best choral and vocal work for Five Meditations on the Poetry of David Campbell

1988 | APRA Most Performed Classical Work for Overture With Fanfares

1982 | Maggs Award, University of Melbourne