‘A profound loss’: Renowned Australian conductor Richard Gill dies aged 76

Richard Gill won fame around the world with his conducting. Source: Getty.

Aussie stars and fans have paid tribute to world renowned conductor and music educator Richard Gill after he died at the age of 76.

The Australian Romantic & Classical Orchestra confirmed the musical legend had passed away in a moving statement, revealing he had died at his home in Sydney on Sunday following a battle with colorectal and peritoneal cancer.

In an incredible moment to mark his career and life, The Guardian reports that around 70 musicians gathered outside his home on Saturday to play one of his favourite pieces, ‘The Dam Busters March’.

The Australian Romantic & Classical Orchestra, which Gill was head of before he died, wrote on Twitter: “Australian Romantic & Classical Orchestra announces with great sadness the death of our beloved Artistic Director, Richard Gill AO. Richard died this morning, Sunday 28 October at 5am in his home in Sydney surrounded by his loving family.”

They shared a link to a lengthy tribute piece, describing him as “a champion of Australian music with no equal”.

The piece went on: “He will be remembered for his contagious energy and flamboyant rhetoric. His passing is a profound loss for the Australian Romantic & Classical Orchestra and Australia alike.”

It concluded: “Like the fading of a beautiful sustained note, or that magical silence following a fabulous performance, a loss as significant as Richard Gill cannot be adequately explained or understood.

“This loss – like music – evokes, suggests and implies. But what we can do is keep making a multitude of sounds. And in every one of them, we know and celebrate that Richard is still there with us.”

While Gill specialised in opera, musical theatre and choral training, he also became a huge name on TV after starring in Spicks and Specks and Q&A – promoting the lesser talked about musical styles.

He also created the government-funded National Music Teacher Mentoring Program, aiming to provide quality music education in all Australian primary schools. In 2005, he was appointed music director of Victorian Opera.

Stars shared loving tributes to the music legend online, with ABC host Leigh Sales writing: “Australia has lost a truly magnificent human being this morning. You’d be hard pressed to name anybody who has done more for public music education in this country. A brilliant teacher, delightful person, force of nature, absolute legend. Vale.”

Meanwhile one Twitter user wrote: “Richard Gill made an extraordinary contribution to Australians’ appreciation of classical music. His enthusiasm and artistic intelligence knew no bounds.”

And the official ARIA account added: “ARIA would like to pay its respects to Conductor and music educator Richard Gill, who has passed away, aged 76. We send our condolences to his family, friends and fans.”

Elsewhere, Melbourne University professor Bronwyn Ryrie Jones wrote: “I am extremely sad to hear of the passing of Richard Gill, an irreplaceable treasure of Australian music education. He was someone who inspired me to start a school choir for the undeniable personal and academic benefits to students, but also for the sake of joy. Vale.”

What are your memories of Richard Gill? Do you have a message for his family?

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