‘I Conduct, Therefore I Am’ Research Exhibition

Illustrations by Maggie McMahon

9 August – 9 October | Conservatorium of Music Library 

Playing on René Descartes famous expression ‘I think, therefore I am’, Nicky Gluch’s PhD research contemplates what it means to be a conductor. 

Gluch explores this question by interrogating the influence of Descartes’ philosophy on Western society alongside the philosophy of Baruch Spinoza, opening up an alternate way of thinking about the relationship between the mind and body, and leaders and followers. The aim of Gluch’s work is to show that leadership does not need to be hierarchical but can rather be relational – an idea of relevance both on and off the podium.

A challenge of theoretical research is that it is often highly conceptual and as such Gluch commissioned illustrator Maggie McMahon to depict 10 key concepts from her work. These illustrations encapsulate five themes, paired with five figures, to tell a story about music leadership:

  • Text Descartes
  • Breath  Adam (Genesis)
  • Bodies Felix Mendelssohn
  • Space Richard Wagner
  • Unity Spinoza.

The five figures will be brought to life with examples of scores and other texts from the Library and Rare Books & Special Collections. 

Learn more about Nicky’s research through this recent article published in Fine Music Magazine, July 2022

You can also be part of the conversation about what it means to be a conductor by following #sydneyconresearch #orchestralconductor through August and September 2022.

A selection of illustrations by Maggie McMahon


Exhibition Talk with Illustrator
Maggie McMahon

Join us for a conversation between Nicky Gluch and illustrator Maggie McMahon to discuss how Nicky’s research was translated into these illustrations.

When: Wednesday, 28 September 2022, 12:30 pm
Where: Music Café, Conservatorium of Music level 2 (near the entrance of Library).

Light refreshments will be provided; for catering purposes, please register by Monday, 26 September 2022.