The Director of Music and Conductor of Balmain Sinfonia is Gary Stavrou, OAM.
Gary Stavrou was born in Cairo (Egypt) in 1941 to Greek Armenian parents. The family migrated to Australia in 1948 and lived predominantly in Sydney.
Gary began violin lessons at the age of six and continued studies to the age of eighteen when he put aside his musical ambition to pursue a university education.
Gary graduated with Bachelor of Pharmacy qualifications in 1963 from Sydney University and, after a period working in London, opened a pharmacy in Rozelle in the inner west of Sydney.
Over the years, Gary developed an interest in alternative health care and was attracted to the philosophy and methods of chiropractic and osteopathy. While still running his pharmacy, he enrolled in the Sydney College of Osteopathy, which at that time offered evening classes. Gary graduated in 1970 and soon after officially changed careers, closing the pharmacy and establishing a private practice as a Chiropractor and Osteopath. In time, Gary became Principal and then Dean of the Sydney College and his time was divided between an academic life and his practice. Gary spent twenty years as Head of the College, in which time the course was greatly upgraded to the point that it could be absorbed by Macquarie University, where it still resides. Gary has recently retired from his Balmain practice.
In 1965 Gary married Kathryn Avgeris, a third generation Greek–Australian. Two daughters resulted, Alexandra who lives in London, and Electra who lives in Sydney and has produced two grandchildren for the besotted Stavrous.
Having put the violin aside for many years, Gary found that he had lost his skills with that instrument. However, a love of music had always remained and formed a large part of his life. To keep himself involved, especially as he and his daughters were participating in amateur musical productions, Gary began taking conducting lessons. In no time he found himself on the podium directing the musicals.
After several years of experience in musical comedy, Gary wanted to conduct something more challenging. He took the plunge and asked about fifty musicians that he knew if they would be interested in playing the classical symphonic repertoire. Most agreed, and the Balmain Sinfonia was formed.
Charmian Gadd, an internationally respected violinist who had recently returned to Australia, was a supportive friend. She agreed to be Patron of the fledgling orchestra and in fact was the soloist in the inaugural concert in May 1992.
Gary Stavrou remains the Director of Music and the President of Balmain Sinfonia Inc. to this day. Gary was awarded the OAM in 2017 for his services to the community and especially to music.