Sarah Penicka-Smith (Australia) gets kudos for her performance of the big duet that ends the first act of Puccini’s Madame Butterfly. Puccini is notoriously difficult to conduct because he raises rubato to a new level that gives the singers a .007 designation. Penicka-Smith allowed Palmertree and Vargas to go their own way and the result was a moving performance.'
Gregory Sullivan Isaacs, Hart Institute for Women Conductors at The Dallas Opera review, Theater Jones, November 2018
Penicka-Smith ... accompanied stylishly and sensitively in an aria from Vivaldi's Giustino and responded keenly to the twists and turns of a heartrending duet from Puccini's Madama Butterfly.
Scott Cantrell, Hart Institute for Women Conductors at The Dallas Opera review,
Dallas News, November 2018
Versatile, perceptive, & a passionate advocate for music as a force for change, Sarah Penicka-Smith thrives working across genres & disciplines. She conducts opera, orchestras & choirs. Sarah's reputation stands on her work with some of Sydney's finest community choirs, but she has also founded or developed several grass-roots ensembles aimed at providing hard-to-find opportunities for musicians & music-lovers alike. Whether inspiring hundreds of singers in a choral workshop, or helping individual singers find their best voice in her home studio, Sarah's approach as a conductor & teacher is always collaborative, creative, & personalised.
10 November 2019: Sarah was again the consultant & workshop conductor for ABC Sydney's Sing Out Sydney event, conducting 600 voices in the massed choir with Christine Anu's beautiful 'Kulba Yaday', as well as River City Voices' debut at the event with Lisa Young's 'Other Plans'. Listen here (RCV at 37 minutes; Kulba Yaday at the end). Photo: Georgia Moloney.
18 August 2019: River City Voices & Taikoz premiered new arrangements of Anime music by composers including Yoko Shimamura and Joe Hisaishi at Cumberland Council's annual Cherry Blossom Festival at the Auburn Botanic Gardens. Photo by Grant Leslie.
25-26 May 2019: Macquarie Singers tour to Young; 3 workshops & 1 concert with Hilltops Choir and Cowra Vocal Ensemble. Read the Booroowa News article.
'Starlit Christmas' with Macquarie Singers & Macquarie Chamber Orchestra. 3pm 7 December 2019, Turramurra Uniting Church.
Handel's 'Messiah' with Susannah Lawergren, Alexandra Mathew, Damien Noyce, Warwick Fyfe, River City Voices & Orchestra. 7.30pm 17 December 2019, St Patrick's Cathedral, Parramatta.
Willoughby Symphony Orchestra, 'Serendipity': Brahms, Farrenc, Debussy, and two world premieres, including composer-in-residence Alice Chance. 23, 24 May 2020, The Concourse, Sydney. Read about the launch of WSO's 2020 season.
'Global Momentum', GALA Choruses Festival 2020 Blockbuster Concert (co-producer & conductor). 7 July 2020, Minneapolis Convention Centre, Minneapolis, USA.
Artistic Director & Principal Conductor, River City Voices; Sydney, NSW, 2019-Present
Principal Conductor, Macquarie Singers; Sydney, NSW, 2013-Present
Conductor, Macquarie Chamber Orchestra; Sydney, NSW, 2019-Present
Director of Music, St Andrew’s College, University of Sydney, NSW, 2011-Present
Founding Artistic Director, Pacific Pride Choir; Sydney, NSW, 2016-Present
Director of Music, St Andrew’s College at the University of Sydney; Sydney, NSW, 2011-Present
Artistic Director, Opera Prometheus; Sydney, NSW, 2014-Present
Participant Conductor, Hart Institute for Women Conductors, The Dallas Opera; Dallas, Texas, 2018
Conductor, Lifehouse Volunteer Orchestra; Sydney, NSW, 2018
Music Director, Sydney Gay & Lesbian Choir; Sydney, NSW, 2005-2017
Chorusmaster, Willoughby Symphony Choir; Sydney, NSW, 2010-2012
Assistant Chorusmaster, Sydney Philharmonia Choirs; Sydney, NSW, 2008-2009
Penrith Symphony Orchestra; Sydney, NSW, 2017-2018
Camp Item Director/Vocal Ensemble Director, NSW Senior Music Camp, The Arts Unit, Dept of Education; Sydney, NSW, 2018
Ku-Ring-Gai Philharmonic Orchestra; Sydney, NSW, 2013, 2016
Opera Prometheus; Sydney, NSW, 2010-2011
The University of Sydney Intercollege Orchestra; Sydney, NSW, 2015
Thoroughbass; Sydney, NSW, 2013-2014
Willoughby Symphony Orchestra; Sydney, NSW, 2010, 2012
Sydney Chamber Orchestra/Ecole Ballet Studio; Sydney, NSW, 2005
Sydney University Symphony Orchestra; Sydney, NSW, 2001, 2004
Campra, André - Tancrède, Opera Prometheus, 2010
Cummins, Luke - Timor, Opera Prometheus, 2015
Glass, Phillip - Akhnaten, Ondine Productions, 2013
Krasa, Hans - Brundibar, Joseph/Toltz/Sydney Jewish Museum/Opera Prometheus, 2014
Leon, Bernard - Monsoon, Opera Prometheus, 2015
Menotti, Giancarlo - The Medium, Opera Prometheus, 2015
Purcell, Henry - Dido & Aeneas, Macquarie Singers, 2017
Purcell, Henry - The Fairy Queen, Macquarie Singers, 2017; Sydney Gay & Lesbian Choir, 2009
Wallace, Steward/Korie, Michael - Harvey Milk, Left Bauer Productions, 2015
Sing Out Sydney, ABC Radio; Sydney, NSW, 2016-Present
Hilltops Choir; Young, NSW, 2018-2019
Sydney Philharmonia Choirs; Sydney, NSW — 2017-2018
Cate Madill Voice & Speech; Sydney, NSW, 2017
Director, 61st Intervarsity Choral Festival; Canberra, ACT, 2010
Gay And Lesbian Singers; Auckland, New Zealand, 2007
Sydney Philharmonia Choirs; Sydney, NSW, 2005-Present
Sydney Youth Orchestra; Sydney, NSW, 2018
59th Intervarsity Choral Festival; Sydney, NSW, 2008
EDUCATION & TRAINING
PhD, University of Sydney, 2011
BA/BMus (Hons), University of Sydney, 2005
Symphony Australia Conductor Development Program, 2012-2015
Maestro Johannes Fritsch & the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra
Maestri Johannes Fritsch, Marko Letonja, Christopher Seaman
& the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra
Maestro Asher Fisch & the West Australian Symphony Orchestra
Header photo: Karen Almond