A WORLD-renowned musical composer has returned to Ballarat for the first time in a decade to inspire the next generation of musicians.
Former Ballarat Clarendon College student Nick McRoberts has spent the better part of 20 years travelling Europe as music conductor for world-class orchestras and ballets.
After graduating from the school in 1999, the Paris-based composer and conductor studied piano, composition and conducting at the Melbourne Conservatorium.
He went on to study further at the Victorian College of the Arts before moving to France in 1999. In his career, he has performed with notable orchestras, including the Janacek Philharmonic Orchestra in the Czech Republic.
Next month he will fly to Bulgaria to conduct the Symphony Orchestra in Poland.
Sitting inside the performing arts centre at Clarendon College on Wednesday, with year 12 music student Noah Heys, Mr McRoberts said he always knew he was destined to embark on a life of making music after he discovered the piano when he was five years old.
“I remember being in my final year of school and being faced with those tricky choices ... do you follow your passion? Or do you make a reasonable choice?” Mr McRoberts said.
“I did both. I started my university studies undertaking a triple degree in science, arts and music. But it wasn’t long before I realised music was what I really wanted to do.”
Mr McRoberts said Clarendon College was instrumental in cementing his lifetime love of music.
He said teachers such as Graeme Vendy mentored him into becoming the person he was today.
“He ran this music centre in a way that it wasn’t just a teaching facility, it was a way of life,” Mr McRoberts said.
“He taught me so many things about music and life.”
Mr McRoberts said for any young budding musician, Ballarat was the perfect place to grow and flourish.
“Ballarat in general is a very musical city. There is just something in the water here,” Mr McRoberts said. “The musical culture of the city is phenomenal.”
His advice for the next generation of budding music students was simple.
“Follow your passion, do what you love and make that the centrepiece of your life,” Mr McRoberts said.
“Then, figuring out how to pay your bills, that’s always how I have looked at it.”
As well as being a musical composer, Mr McRoberts regularly works as a songwriter and arranger for modern alternative pop and rock musicians.
When he is not touring Europe, he is an executive coach and teacher of critical thinking at NEOMA business school in Paris.