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Dr Susan Collins


The Dream Team

Newcastle Youth Orchestra prides itself with a highly experienced, professional and vibrant staff. The orchestra rehearse weekly, led by the combined efforts of the following staff.

Dr Ian Cook
Principal Conductor & Artistic Director

Dr Ian Cook graduated from Newcastle Conservatorium of Music in 1978 having studied clarinet with Clive Amadio being awarded the Diploma of the State Conservatorium of Music (D.S.C.M.). In 1981 Ian studied clarinet pedagogy with Pamela Weston and Colin Bradbury in London. In 1993 he was awarded a high commendation in the “Award of Excellence in Teaching” by the University of Newcastle. In 1997 Ian received for his work with the University of Newcastle Wind Orchestra the Vice Chancellor’s Award. In 2000 he gained his Master of Music majoring in conducting. Ian continued studies in conducting as a doctoral candidate at the University of Newcastle with an emphasis in opera/music theatre. Ian has conducted performances of The Magic Flute, La Belle Helene, HMS Pinafore, The Mikado, The Pirates of Penzance, Rigoletto, Sweeney Todd, The Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni, La Boheme Wonderful Town, Candide and The Merry Widow. His mentor has been the eminent

Australian conductor Maestro Myer Fredman. He was awarded his PhD in 2009 from the University of Newcastle. 


In 2013 Ian took up a Scholars and Artist in Residence (SAR) Fellowship at the National Sound and Film Archives in Canberra researching Mozart performances in the 20th century held by the NFSA. In the following year a further SAR Fellowship was offered researching Hector Crawford’s contribution to Australia’s cultural history in the middle of the 20th century. In June 2016 Ian to presented a paper at the Oxford Conducting Institute Conference at St Anne’s College—Oxford University. The paper focused on the Notion Conducting Software program whereby conducting students work with a virtual orchestra (The London Symphony). 

In December 2016 Ian retired from the University of Newcastle after teaching for 35 years. With his recent appointment as Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of Newcastle Youth Orchestra Ian now looks forward to working with the musicians and leading them through their next phase of development.

Rodney Wikstrom
Conductor of NYO Kids

Rodney Wikstrom grew up on the South Coast and began Suzuki violin lessons at age 3. Soon the violin took Rodney to Sydney on Saturdays, a two hour trip each way, for violin lessons, and to play with the Sydney Youth Orchestras. At age 12 he gained a scholarship to study at Kinross Wolaroi School in Orange, and in 1994 embarked on his first of what would become many international music tours.


In 1997 he entered the Sydney Conservatorium High School and in the same year was awarded the Associate Diploma of Music by the AMEB. After the HSC Rodney continued studying violin performance at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.

During this time he was heavily involved with orchestras and participated in

many tours with the SBS Television & Radio Youth Orchestra, Sydney Youth Orchestra, Youth Music Australia Orchestras and the Sydney Conservatorium Orchestra. Rodney has toured nationally and internationally with orchestras and artists including the Edinburgh Military Tattoo, the Real Mexico Mariachi Band, and most recently with Jimmy Barnes. 


Rodney is also a passionate music educator with an interest in gifted education, and has studied with internationally respected violin pedagogues. He performs when time permits with Sydney Ensemble, The Real Mexico, and Sydney and Newcastle Orchestras. Rodney teaches violin privately, conducts a bi-annual holiday music composition course for gifted children with his wife at UNSW, and is an experienced school music teacher at all levels up to HSC Music 2.

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