If I think about it, it seems very unlikely that I would have made a career in music. Electrician, house painter, racehorse groom or farm hand seem much more likely than conductor and violist.

I was born in the mid-eighties while my parents were working on a thoroughbred stud in Dunedoo, NSW, and spent to first 6 years of my life moving from place to place as we chased work, even living in a one-bedroom caravan at one point.

My father had been a builder, house painter, beach camper, and horse groom in his previous life after making trouble on unattended public transport vehicles around North Sydney, and while is a great proponent of The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, and Led Zeppelin, I wouldn’t dare say he was what one might call musically gifted (sorry Dad). My mother had grown up as one of 7 children on a property in mid-north Queensland, being packed off to boarding school at 12 before being called home again to chase cattle when she was 16. It was these four years that I must thank for any real musical input in my childhood as it was at boarding school that Mother Spicer learnt cello and piano and was instilled with a love of music that she has carried burning fiercely inside her to this day.

Violin lessons began at age 6 for me, with my parents trading help with my teacher’s horses for violin lesson for both my sister and I, and I guess I must have had a relatively natural aptitude for it as I don’t think I ever took practice very seriously, I would much prefer to be riding my horse, or running wild in the hills behind Picton where we had managed to buy a house. My Mother had started teaching violin to young beginner students not many years after I had started lessons myself, those of you paying attention may ask if a typo had been made here, but no, my mother began teaching violin, having studied cello and piano only while at school… as well as milking cows at the local dairy. Meanwhile my father had gone back to painting houses, often working 6 days a week, leaving home in the dark, and not getting back until almost dinner (don’t mention the word workaholic). This may be where I get my drive for long hours, diverse projects and the wide-ranging musical intensity that goes alongside conducting.

I can only imagine the sacrifice my parents would have made to send both me, my sister, and eventually our brother to instrumental lessons regularly, eventually driving to the opposite ends of Sydney to learn from some of the most respected pedagogues around. Through this I found myself in National music camps, a variety of youth orchestras and musical projects tumbling eventually into the heaving intellectual magnificence of the Sydney conservatorium in the early 2000s.

Luke Spicer is set to conduct all the works in the upcoming “Emperor” program with the Willoughby Symphony Orchestra. Join WSO for a moment of music making that captures the new, the traditional, the divine, and the sublime.


20 April, 7pm and 21 April, 2pm

The Concourse Concert Hall – 409 Victoria Ave, Chatswood NSW 2067

Tickets from $16.40 to $75