Dr Kathleen McGuire, residential Director of Music at Queen’s College – The University of Melbourne, is an award-winning Australian/American conductor who has led opera productions, orchestras and choirs in six countries.
While completing a Bachelor of Music degree at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, she studied singing with Loris Synan and composition with Peter Tahourdin and Barry Conyngham. She then completed post-graduate studies in conducting at the Victorian College of the Arts, receiving tutelage from Robert Rosen, Nicholas Braithwaite, Richard Divall, Myer Fredman, Warwick Stengards and Carlo Felice Cillario. In her twenties, she conducted the Melbourne Opera Company, Lyric Opera, Renaissance Opera, Gilbert & Sullivan Society of Victoria, Melbourne University Choral Society and Malvern Symphony, and won the Best Musical Director award for the Australian premiere of Metropolis at Monash University.
Encouraged by ABC orchestras to continue her training overseas, McGuire completed a Master of Music degree With Distinction at the University of Surrey (UK) as a recipient of a Rotary International Ambassadorial Fellowship. In the UK she was mentored by maestros Sian Edwards (English National Opera) and Simone Young (Covent Garden) and studied with Nicholas Conran, a student of Sergui Celibedache. In 1996 she commenced a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in conducting at the University of Colorado at Boulder (USA), where she worked with maestros Robert Spillman (Aspen Music Festival) and Martin Isepp (Glyndebourne) at the nationally renowned CU Opera. She also worked with maestro Theodore Kuchar, conducting the university’s symphony orchestra and the Boulder Philharmonic.
Upon graduating from Colorado, she moved to San Francisco where she lived for 13 years, directing Opera By The Bay, Golden Gate Opera, Goat Hall Opera, Sacramento Ballet, San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus, The Women’s Philharmonic, the Community Women’s Orchestra, and The Empyrean Ensemble. As a guest conductor of the Gay Games in 2002, she conducted 560 voices with soloists Jonathon Welch and Deborah Cheetham at the Sydney Opera House. For her outstanding contributions to their city, San Francisco mayors Gavin Newsom and Edwin R. Lee each proclaimed a “Kathleen McGuire Day” during their terms of office. She was granted US citizenship in 2011.
In addition to her work at Queen’s College, McGuire is the Music Director of the Melbourne Gay & Lesbian Chorus, she teaches and conducts music at Brunswick Secondary College and the Victorian College of the Arts Secondary School, and she is a conductor with the School of Hard Knocks. She is also a prolific arranger and composer; her latest work, Street Requiem, composed in collaboration with Jonathon Welch AM and Andy Payne, received its premiere in June 2014 at the Melbourne Recital Centre.
As a result of her many years in San Francisco, McGuire has especially close affiliations with the Harvey Milk Opera, including having organised the 25th and 30th anniversary commemorations of the assassination of Harvey Milk at San Francisco City Hall. Coincidentally, she also shares Harvey Milk’s birthday: May 22.