and the Role of the Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust in the Musical Life of Australia for more than 50 years.

Warwick Ross’s participation in the Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust’s far-reaching role in the musical life of Australia began in 1967 and continues to the present day. As a young double bass player, he joined the Sydney Elizabethan Trust Orchestra, and subsequently, the Melbourne Elizabethan Trust Orchestra, touring extensively accompanying the Australian Opera and Ballet companies. After performance and orchestral management experience in the UK and for Edgley International, he studied and worked as an audio engineer and producer of recorded music.

In 1986 he was appointed Administrator of the Trust Orchestras. While negotiating and overseeing the transfers of the orchestras to Orchestra Victoria and Opera Australia Orchestra, he established Australian Orchestral Enterprises to develop audiences and promote wider performance and repertoire opportunities for musicians, ensembles, orchestras and audiences. He subsequently studied and practised law before lecturing at Newcastle Conservatorium of Music, working with Wayne Stuart as Stuart & Sons Pianos began to design and create their unique instruments.

New Dimensions
Warwick Ross with members of his group New Dimension, early 1970s. (Chapter 3)

In 1999 he returned to the Trust as General Manager, and initiated and developed a supportive, bench-mark mentoring process managing the Trust’s Overseas Music Scholarship Program, enabling Australian singers, musicians and conductors to undertake professional development and specialist music study overseas. In 2004 he was Project Manager for the renovation of the Independent Theatre, Sydney. Bringing an extensive understanding and appreciation of the acoustic qualities that provide the best musical experience for musicians and audiences, he ensured the Independent became established as a sought after chamber music venue, now owned by Wenona School.

Helfgott concert
David Helfgott playing with the Elizabethan Sydney orchestra, conducted by John Hopkins, at the Sydney Town Hall, May 1987. (Chapter 6)

Warwick’s story, told initially as an extended 36 hour oral history interview, researched and recorded by Margaret Leask over 10 sessions in 2015, was transcribed by experienced transcriber Pat Francis, then edited, fact checked and annotated by Margaret, who had, coincidently, worked for the AETT in the 1970s. One of the biggest challenges was to retain Warwick’s ‘voice’ in preparing his story to be read rather than listened to. He was closely involved in this process, which prompted additional memories and clarity. Throughout his story, he reveals, with considerable attention to the detail involved, his unshakeable commitment to the musical life of Australia and Australians, reflecting the Trust’s own 1954 commitment, to encourage, develop and support the arts in Australia. Warwick’s story also provides rarely recorded insight, and honest observations of his lived experience, into how Australia’s arts organisations were born, developed and blossomed as they confronted difficulties in relation to facilities, funding, unions and personalities while seeking audiences and artistic excellence. His extended interview and subsequent publication provide unique and first hand access to behind the scenes of a major, long standing arts organisation.

Acoustic shells
The acoustic shells in place on the Independent Theatre stage. (Chapter 11)

The Trust’s important role in nurturing, fighting for and guiding Australian arts organisations towards independence has sometimes been forgotten or maligned. Warwick’s story gives some of the detail of this process – much of it undertaken behind the scenes and unrecognised. It also shows how arts administration that has as its principal aim the encouragement of an art form, taking into account both the artists and the audience, is essential if the arts are to flourish.

Since memory is always impacted by time and experience, Making Music has taken advantage of access to the extensive treasure trove of the Trust’s Archives. Correspondence, reports, newsletters, programs, photographs and sound files have been referenced to illustrate and annotate Warwick’s memories with images, facts and reviews.

Front cover of Making Music

Front cover of Making Music.

As part of the Trust’s aim to make its story accessible, as well as a print version, there is a free, downloadable, on-line version of Making Music on the Trust’s website (, which has been linked to the National Library’s Trove. This version has inter-active links to Trust archive material, sound recordings, and to other websites relating to organisations and companies initially established through the Trust.

ISBN 978-0-646-84991-1 Print version

ISBN 978-0-646-84990-4 E-book

 First published in Australia in December 2021 by
The Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust,
20 Young Street, Neutral Bay, NSW 2089.

Edited by Margaret Leask
Design and typesetting by John Senczuk
Cover photograph by Joseph Saw
Printed in Australia by Kaligraphic Print Pty Ltd