Steven Stanke

Steven Stanke was born in Chinchilla, Queensland and began studies in percussion when aged 12 and trombone a year later. He began studies at Darling Downs Institute of Advanced Education (now University of Southern Queensland) in 1979 and joined the Royal Australian Air Force Band in 1982. He resumed studies in composition at Queensland Conservatorium of Music in 1989, graduating with a Bachelor’s degree with Honours and a Master’s degree in Music Theory and Applied Analysis. He was Head of Music at East Catholic High School, Connecticut USA in 1996/7 and, upon return to Australia, joined the Royal Australian Navy Band. He accepted a commission in 2000 to become a Band Officer, directing the Royal Australian Navy Band in both Melbourne and Sydney and teaching conducting and music theory at the Defence Force School of Music, Watsonia. In 2007 he graduated from University of Melbourne with a Master’s degree in Conducting, studying with John Hopkins, and in 2010 completed a PhD also at University of Melbourne. His topic of research was opera composition in Australia in the early 20th Century with a focus on English-born and Australian based composer and educator Fritz Hart. Hart was, for many years, director of Albert St Conservatorium and was influential in the development of many performers and composers, particularly women.

In 2015, Steven was promoted to Lieutenant Commander and took the role of Director of Music (Navy) where he had oversight of the six bands of the RAN. Significant projects and tasks included conducting Anzac Dawn services in Gallipoli and France, music director of the Australian component of the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo in Melbourne in 2016 and Nanchang International Military Tattoo in China (2017), and music director for the Invictus Games Opening and Closing ceremonies in 2018. He was Artistic Director and Conductor of Sydney Independent Opera from 2011-2015 and Lyric Opera Central Coast 2018. He has also conducted numerous community orchestras, bands and choirs and adjudicated many competitions and festivals.

Steven retired from the RAN in 2020 and is now focused on orchestral composition, programming and performance. He has been the Artistic Director and Conductor of Symphony Central Coast since 2014 and was Orchestra Conductor at University of Newcastle from 2017 to 2019.

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