Our People

An experienced well rounded leadership team

Our Ambassadors

Karen Carey

Karen has been a music educator for 40 years working in the Department of Education as well as serving  as Director of Music at MLC school for 25 years and more recently as Artistic Director at Santa Sabina College. In 2007, Karen received a National Award for Excellence in Music Education, and in 2011 was the subject of the award-winning documentary Mrs Carey’s Concert. Karen believes in the intrinsic value of music education for all children and for the cohesion of communities.

Karen served on the Board of Symphony for Life Foundation from 2016 to 2022 as a member of the Program Committee. She now continues her invaluable support as an Ambassador.

Sally Walker

Senior Lecturer in Performance - Australian National University School of Music

With a repertoire ranging from early music to works composed especially for her, Canberra-born flautist Sally Walker has toured internationally with some of the world’s finest orchestras, and has appeared in the London Proms, Salzburg, Lucerne, Tanglewood and Edinburgh Festivals. She is currently Senior Lecturer in Performance at the Australian National University School of Music and has a long-standing association as Guest Principal Flautist with the Australian Chamber Orchestra. To read more about Sally, please click here.

Our Board

Emeritus Professor Di Yerbury

Chair of Governance/Risk Management Committee

Australia’s first female First Assistant Secretary, Australian Public Service, 1973, in charge of National Wage Cases; first female Professor of Management, 1976; founding professor, AGSM (UNSW); CEO, Australia Council for the Arts (1984); first female Vice-Chancellor (Macquarie, 1987-2006); President, Universities Australia, 2004-06; Telstra NSW Business Woman of the Year, 2002; Board Director since 1983 in business, education and arts boards, including several in music; Patron, Australian Youth Orchestra.

Dr Richard Letts AM

Deputy Chairperson
Chair of Program Committee

Founder, Director, The Music Trust; author, editor, publisher. Began professional life as jazz musician. PhD, University of California at Berkeley, music. Founder, CEO, East Bay Center for Performing Arts, San Francisco, then Director, MacPhail Music Center, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis (largest in USA). Returned to Australia as Director, Music Board, Australia Council; Director, Australian Music Centre. Founder, CEO Music Council of Australia. Volunteer roles include President, International Music Council, Paris, 2005-9.

Jonathan Abednego

Chair of Fundraising Committee

 Jonathan is Head of Business at Wesley Mission, one of Australia’s largest community service organisations. Over 12 years’ senior management experience in banking, FMCG and not-for-profit. In 2013, he founded and remains director of a venture capital and consulting firm helping to accelerate new business ideas. He is classically trained in piano, voice and holds degrees in business, information technology and an MBA. In 2018, he became a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Management.

Marianne Kopeinig

Member of the Governance and
Risk Management Committee

Over 20 years of legal experience as a private practitioner, corporate counsel and company secretary for private and ASX listed companies – in commercial, corporate governance, risk management and compliance. Marianne’s experience has been gained in private practice, listed and unlisted companies in a range of sectors: including – IT, research, retail, funds management, community and disability sectors. Marianne was a founding committee member of the Clayton Utz Community Connect Foundation. She has been involved in school music programs as a parent and co-convenor. She has LLB/BJuris, LLM Graduate diploma ACG, FGIA, FCIS.

Mandy Yan

Treasurer and Chair of the Finance and Audit Committee

A manager in Treasury, Macquarie Bank. She is a qualified chartered accountant with over 10 years experience in treasury transaction advisory, financial and management reporting, auditing and due diligence reviews for IPOs, in both local and overseas markets such as UK, China and Singapore.

Professor Gary McPherson

Member of Program Committee

Gary McPherson grey

Gary McPherson is the Ormond Professor of Music at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music. He has served as National President of the Australian Society for Music Education and President of the International Society for Music Education. In 2021, he was the recipient of an Honorary Doctorate from Lund University Sweden. His most important research examines the acquisition and development of musical competence, and motivation to engage and participate in music from novice to expert levels. With a particular interest in the acquisition of visual, aural and creative performance skills, he has attempted to understand more precisely how music students become sufficiently motivated and self-regulated to achieve at the highest level.

Executive Staff

David Close

Chief Executive Officer

David has over 20 years of experience in small, medium and large IT and consulting companies with business management responsibilities for; sales, marketing, consulting, recruitment, mentoring and project management. Industry experience includes; government, defence, emergency services covering NZ, Asia and USA. Recently, David advises high-tech start-ups.

David also spent 9 years undertaking post-graduate research and lecturing at UNSW, ANU and Sydney University.

Qualifications include; Graduate Diploma, Applied Corporate Governance (Governance Institute of Australia), Marketing Diploma (APBC) and B.Surv. (Honours, UNSW).

Christopher Bennett

Director of Programs

Christopher holds a Bachelor’s in music from the Sydney Conservatorium, and a Master’s in music from Northwestern University in Chicago. In addition to his position with the Symphony for Life Foundation, he runs his own music school, St Leonards Music Academy, and performs regularly around Sydney and Australia as a cellist in solo, chamber, and orchestral settings.


People in the music world will recognise the names of our endorsers in the following list and the Symphony for Life Foundation board members at the end of this document.

These distinguished musicians and leaders in Australian music have endorsed Symphony for Life.

Prof Barry Conyngham AM, composer, former Dean of University of Melbourne Faculty of Victorian College of the Arts and Melbourne Conservatorium of Music; formerly Inaugural Vice-Chancellor, Southern Cross University

Brett Dean, composer; conductor; violist, formerly with Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra

Claire Edwardes, Music Director, Ensemble Offspring; percussionist

Andrew Ford OAM, broadcaster, The Music Show, ABC RN; composer, author

Elena Kats-Chernin AO, composer, pianist

Gary McPherson, Ormond Professor of Music, former President, International Society for Music Education, former Dean, Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, University of Melbourne

Dene Olding AM, Leader and First Violin, Goldner String Quartet; Concertmaster Emeritus, Sydney Symphony Orchestra

Roland Peelman AM, Artistic Director, Canberra International Music Festival; conductor

Neal Peres da Costa, Associate Dean (Research) and Professor of Historical Performance, Sydney Conservatorium of Music; Leader, Ironwood ensemble; harpsichordist, pianist

Anna Reid, Professor, Head of School and Dean, Sydney Conservatorium of Music, University of Sydney

Kathryn Selby AM, Leader, Kathy Selby and Friends; pianist

Jack Symonds, Artistic Director, Sydney Chamber Opera; conductor, composer.

Lyndon Terracini AM, former Artistic Director, Opera Australia; baritone

Richard Tognetti AO, Artistic Director and Lead Violin, Australian Chamber Orchestra

Brett Weymark OAM, Artistic and Music Director, Sydney Philharmonia Choirs; conductor, singer

Lyn Williams, Director, National Children’s Gondwana Choirs


Sydney Symphony Orchestra has adopted Symphony for Life with supportive collaborations by SSO musicians