Brian Castles-Onion

Musician, Conductor
Inducted 26 November 2008

Brian Castles-Onion was born in Cessnock, where he attended school, going on to his tertiary studies at the Newcastle Conservatorium of Music.

Brian’s career has seen him become one of Australia’s best known conductors and pianists. He has worked at New York’s Metropolitan Opera and the Rossini Festival in Italy, has been Artistic Director of Canterbury Opera in New Zealand and continues a long association with Opera Australia.

In concert, Brian Castles-Onion is a celebrated compère as well as conductor.  He was on the podium for Opera Australia’s 40th Anniversary Gala and The Robert Allman Farewell Gala and conducted the Joan Sutherland State Memorial Service, which was broadcast internationally on television and radio. His recital and concert appearances have seen him as conductor and pianist for Kiri Te Kanawa, Sumi Jo, Frederica von Stade, Placido Domingo, José Carreras and Geraldine Turner.  

Brian has a reputation as an international recording artist, orchestral arranger and broadcaster, working in cabaret in New York, Berlin, London and throughout Australia, where he also regularly appeared on national television.  Brian was also a regular pianist/presenter on ABC television’s Play School.

Brian's book Losing the Plot in Opera (published by Exisle Publishing) was released internationally in 2008.  He made his New York Recital Debut in May 2009 and taught at Julliard School of Music in New York. His most recent engagements include La Bohème, The Mikado, Carmen, Don Pasquale and La Traviata for Opera Australia; four consecutive seasons of Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour (La Traviata, Carmen, Madama Butterfly, Aïda); Tosca, Rigolettoand Don Giovanni for West Australian Opera; performances with the all the major Australian symphony orchestras and concerts with Kiri Te Kanawa and Sumi Jo.

2016 performances for Opera Australia include Tosca, Carmen, Opera in the Domain and the New Year’s Eve Gala; he also conducted Turandot (2016) for Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour. 

For more information, visit the Opera Australia website.

Plaque location

202 Vincent Street, Cessnock (Cessnock Performing Arts Centre)