2023 Big West Tour – Meet the Artists

Meet the Big West Artists!

Cowra has an extensive history and story to tell about the role of peace. Drawing on the events of the Cowra Breakout with the Japanese and Italian prisoners of war, the World Peace Bell, the Japanese Gardens, Peace Precinct and ongoing commitment to international understanding, Nicholas composed the World Peace Day Suite.

We are thrilled to be the orchestra who will perform the World Premiere of Nicholas Gentile’s work World Peace Suite featuring the Cowra Peace Bell itself! 

Cowra will be shutting down its main street specifically for the premiere! 

More about Nicholas:


Nicholas Gentile has established himself as a fine talent in the Music Industry with shining testimonials concerning theatre, performance and composition. A proud graduate of the prestigious Talent Development Project, Nicholas has performed and studied around the world.

In 2010, Nicholas received a scholarship to London to study conducting under Denise Ham and Colin Pettit on the West End Production of Les Miserables. In 2013, Nicholas travelled to Broadway through the Talent Development Project to work with composers like Stephen Schwartz (WICKED, Godspell, Pippin) and Alan Menken (The Little Mermaid, Sister Act, Aladdin) and perform in theatre venues around New York and Washington such as Don’t Tell Mamma and The Kennedy Centre. He was invited back to be a student in the Marvin Hamlisch Broadway Conductors Program. 

Nicholas is the composer of La Creole, Together Apart, and last year released a musical short film trilogy online starring Philip Quast. He has worked as a composer and orchestrator on various short films for international film festivals. He continues to teach musical theatre at the Australian Institute of Music and occasionally joins the staff at NIDA and the International Screen Academy. Nicholas has recently undertaken a new position as the Chief Conductor of the Sydney Girls Orchestra. 

We are excited to have the energetic enigmatic Ben Northey joining us in Broken Hill! With a wealth of knowledge and experience under his baton, Ben will be conducting Dvorak’s 9th, Ross Edwards’ Ecstatic Dance as well as orchestral arrangements in collaboration with local singer-songwriters Nancy Bates, Leroy Johnson and Aimee Volkovsky. 

More info about Ben:

Australian conductor Benjamin Northey is the Chief Conductor of the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra and the Principal Conductor in Residence of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. He has previously held the posts of Associate Conductor of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra (2010-2019), Resident Guest Conductor of the Australia Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra (2002-2006) and Principal Guest Conductor of the Melbourne Chamber Orchestra (2007-2010).

Northey studied conducting at Finland’s Sibelius Academy with Professors Leif Segerstam and Atso Almila after being accepted as the highest placed applicant in 2002. He completed his studies at the Stockholm Royal College of Music with Jorma Panula in 2006 before returning home to Australia where he has become one of the most sought after conductors in the Asia-Pacific region.

Photo Credit: Laura Manariti

It’s a priviledge to be working with the wonderful and wise Leroy Johnson. We will be collaborating with Leroy to produce a moving, orchestral arrangement of one of his original works which we will perform together at the penultimate Outback Gala in Broken Hill. It’s going to be epic!

More info about Leroy:

Leroy Johnson is a Barkindji/Malyangaapa man with connections to the lower Baaka (Darling) communities in western NSW.

Over the past 20 years Leroy has been performing and writing music about self-determination, connection to country, culture and family.

Leroy is the first Aboriginal Park Manager of Mutawintji National Park, a place which provides much of the inspiration for his latest music.


We can’t wait to work with the talented Aimee Volkovsky in the lead up to the Outback Gala in Broken Hill! We will be performing an orchestral arrangement with Aimee of one of her original works.

More info about Aimee:

Born and raised in the arid lands of western NSW, on the banks of the Barka, Aimee Volkofsky sings about dust, ghost stories, the harsh realities of life in the bush, and the ancient beauty of the Australian landscape. Weaving folk, country, and blues into a tapestry of new and old.


We are proud to have SYO Alumni Andrew Howes working with us as our Big West Tour Arranger. Andrew is creating orchestral arrangements for our collaborative Outback Gala.

More info about Andrew:

Andrew Howes (b.1992) is a Sydney-based composer, building an international reputation for orchestral and choral music. His compositions and orchestrations have been heard in film and TV, as well as on main-stages across Australia, Europe, the UK and the USA. After the Clifton Parker Award afforded him the opportunity to study with Alison Kay and Simon Holt at the Royal College of Music, London, he moved to New York to complete his Master’s with Susan Botti at the Manhattan School of Music, where in 2017 he won the Manhattan Prize.

Andrew enjoys working with a wide range of performing media and his works have been performed by the Enigma Quartet, Windplay, AYO’s Alexander Orchestra, AYO’s Chamber Players, Sydney Youth Orchestra, Moorambilla Voices, the Willoughby Symphony, Orchestra Victoria, the Sydney Camerata, the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, The Song Company, Taikoz, and the Sydney Symphony.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, he composed The Aching Bones, premiered by Oliver Shermacher, Anna Da Silva Chen and Vatche Jambazian in the Sydney Opera House’s New Australian Classical series, Winangara, premiered by Diana Doherty, Joshua Batty and Evan Streater as part of The Chamber Project’s 2020 season, Lake Lines 5, premiered by Glenn Christensen during The Chamber Project’s Couch Concerts series, Luminifera – Wild Light for Orchestra, to be premiered in 2022 by the Sydney Symphony and received joint first prize in Bel A Capella’s Choral Composition prize for his work Moss Stone Cantic. His first album Telopea was released in September, 2021.

Andrew has become an in demand arranger and orchestrator, having helped to create over a hundred orchestral tracks for UPM and Premiumbeat, During 2020 and 2021 he created several arrangements for the concert series Live at Yours, for performers including Vatche Jambazian, Emily Granger, Andrew Haveron and Simon Tedeschi, and since 2011 has orchestrated several works for performance by the Sydney Symphony, including songs for Josh Pyke’s Live at the Sydney Opera House album.

In 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2019, Andrew was composer in residence for the APRA-award winning Moorambilla Voices. He has continued to create works and content for Moorambilla Voices throughout the pandemic, including several Moorambilla Magic Modules in collaboration with choreographer Jacob Williams. He was composer in residence in 2019 for the inaugural Milbi Festival, and collaborated with Robert McLellan to create the Taribelang Welcome Song.

Krystle created the stunning artwork for our tour! The design is made up of the orchestra’s route map, in an aboriginal style that means travelling with the stops as a camp or meeting place. The ‘Sun’ is a welcome, people coming together, stars to represent outback skies, and walking track journey across land. 


More about Krystle:

Krystle Evans is a contemporary Aboriginal & Feminist Artist practicing across the disciplines of painting, textiles & mixed media. A Barkandji artist living & working in Broken Hill, Evans’ works are often confessional in nature, being inspired & shaped by experience. The use of Aboriginal Art & feminist iconography intertwine with diaristic text fragments to form highly charged pieces that speak of sex, creation & the human experience. Evans’ work explores what it is to be a woman, a mother, an artist, Aboriginal & all too human.


Have a listen:

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