The Australian Youth Orchestra has appointed Kimbali Harding as its new Chief Executive Officer. Harding takes the reins Colin Cornish, who's accepted the Chief Executive role at the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra after seventeen years at the helm of the AYO. AYO Board Chair Ben Rimmer said Harding was the standout candidate in a powerful field of applicants. “Kimbali is an exceptional musician, conductor and educator who's devoted a significant portion of her career to the growth and development of youthful musicians – and it's this devotion that's in tune with the AYO and our mission,” Rimmer said. “She has impressive credentials as a trained concert pianist, has conducted world premieres with thousands of musicians and choral voices, and has played alongside some of the most number names in orchestral music.” “She is deeply committed to enhancing AYO’s role as a pre-professional training ground for the following generation of Australian professional musicians – whether they work in leading Australian ensembles, or the best orchestras of the world.” Harding has performed on the concert stage the age of four as a soloist and ensemble musician.
Youth orchestras have been an integral portion of her development as an artist and an educator. She majored in piano performance at the Sydney Conservatorium and the Cortot Conservatoire in Paris, below the tutelage of the concert pianist France Clidat. She completed a musicology degree at L’Universite de la Sorbonne, and Masters through New England University. Harding also studied at the TX Piano International at the Van Cliburn Institute and has toured internationally. A passionate advocate for Australian music, she's conducted a no of world premieres, including the world premiere of Luke Byrne’s Grand Lights with symphony orchestra and choir of one thousand six hundred voices. In Australia and New Zealand, Harding has served as Director of Education at Musica Viva, she implemented the organisation’s digital education program and helped connect professional musicians with more than 300.000 children in schools. The Australian Youth Orchestra has been portion of the evolution of Australia’s cultural identity, Harding said. “It started as a dream to give youthful musicians the chance to expand together and allow pathways for progression to international standards.
At the time it was revolutionary for Australia, and even today is one of only a few similar programs in the world. “I wish to work with these talented youthful people to assistance them their art to shine a light on issues that matter to them. It’s about agency and giving youthful musicians an international platform for their musical voice to be heard.”