Headshot for Ian McLean AM CSC

Ian McLean AM CSC

Ian McLean served as a professional musician with the Australian Army for over 40 years. His career included postings throughout Australia and the UK. Highlights include his 8 years as Officer Commanding/Music Director of the Band of the Royal Military College, then appointment as the overall Director of Music for the Australian Army.

He was CEO, Canberra Symphony Orchestra, during a break in military service between 2001 and 2007. During his 33 years in Canberra he has conducted some 40 productions for many musical theatre companies. He has been the Musical Director of the Blamey Street Big Band for 14 years, played drums with the Leisa Keen jazz trio and ‘Swing in Style’ for many years, and is a judge for both the Combined Area Theatre (CAT) Awards and the Ovations Theatre Awards.

For “Outstanding Service to the Band of the Royal Military College” Ian was awarded a Conspicuous Service Cross (CSC) in the 1996 Australia Day Honours List. In 2003 he received the Centenary of Federation medal for his “outstanding contribution to musical life in Canberra” and in 2004, 2006 and 2007 won Canberra Critics Circle Awards for Music.

He is the founder and conductor of the Canberra Pops Orchestra, is a music/theatre reviewer with ‘City News’, runs his own music/entertainment agency, and is Patron of both the Australian Rugby Choir and the Australian Capital Territory Youth Orchestra. He has worked professionally as a radio announcer for ABC Radio Canberra and for 15 years presented the ‘Sounds Early’ radio program on Artsound FM.

He retired in December 2020 after 8 years in his final military role, where he worked as the Media Support Officer at the Royal Military College, Duntroon, providing commentary, and performing the MC role, for all ceremonial military occasions. In recent years he has travelled to Switzerland each July where he is the Artistic Advisor to the famed Basel Tattoo, the European counterpart of Scotland’s Edinburgh Tattoo. In the 2009 Australia Day Honours List he was awarded an AM in the General Division for his services to music and the community.

Ian conducted many productions for the Canberra Philharmonic Society from 1990 to 2010 before forming a close association with the Free-Rain Theatre Company. In recent years he has conducted Singing in the Rain, Chicago, Phantom of the Opera, Mary Poppins, The Little Mermaid, Wicked, Les Miserables, 42nd Street and Shrek for Free-Rain, and has enjoyed the opportunity to renew his association in the madcap Spamalot.