Photo Frank Crews

Photo Frank Crews


As the leading and longest standing improvising music ensemble in Australia, the Australian Art Orchestra and its Artistic Director Peter Knight are strongly committed to nurturing and developing leaders of the future.

The Pathfinders program is designed to provide an opportunity to gain an insight into what is required to run a successful music ensemble, and to gain experience and skills to prepare the Associate Artist for future artistic leadership roles. 

The Associate Artist is able develop their artistic skills as a performer, ensemble director, composer and curator, whilst at the same time gaining experience as a producer and arts administrator.

Aviva Endean, inaugural recipient of the Pathfinders program: “The Associate Artist role with the AAO has provided me with a rare offer of a long-term, supported engagement with a high-profile arts organisation and this experience has allowed me to gain a deeper understanding of the inner workings of an arts organisation, develop meaningful artistic relationships with other artists, and equip me with the skills I will require in future artistic leadership roles.


2018: Aviva Endean
2019: Reuben Lewis


Reuben Lewis has been appointed to the role of Associate Artist, as part of the Australian Art Orchestra’s Pathfinders - Music Leadership Program.

Reuben Lewis is an influential voice in the new jazz, free improv and avant multidisciplinary communities of Australia. He has refined a unique electro-acoustic language, devised through trumpet with extended techniques and preparations alongside live analogue processing with pedals and amplifiers. Besides his acclaimed work as a performer, composer and bandleader, Reuben is also a frequent collaborator in a range of interdisciplinary projects, including visual artist Dianne Fogwell, director / media artist Bambang N Karim, choreographer Lilian Steiner and a long-standing association with choreographer Tony Yap.

AAO’s Artistic Director Peter Knight: “Reuben is an impressively innovative instrumentalist, but his skills and ambition extend far beyond that. The Pathfinders program was created to offer opportunities for emerging music leaders to expand their artistic practice, and to experience the inner workings of an ensemble like the AAO. Reuben is someone who is widely known for his strong artistic vision, and his ability to bring people together. The Pathfinders program comes at exactly the right time for him, and will hopefully bring him experience, knowledge and networks that will benefit him for the rest of his career.”

Selection panel member, Creative Producer Martel Ollerenshaw: “Reuben is not only an exceptional musician, but also someone that at a relatively young age has proven his ability to lead large ensembles and boldly take on ambitious projects. Within a strong field of contenders, he was the stand-out candidate.”

Reuben: “I am honoured to be selected as this year’s Associate Artist for the AAO Pathfinders program. This position offers a rare opportunity to develop new skills, creative works and professional networks that will facilitate the vital next step in my career trajectory as well as guide me toward reaching my full potential as an emerging leader within the international arts community. I am excited to become part of the inspiring team at the AAO over this period as well as contribute to and learn from their ambitious visions for what Australian music can be in the 21st century.”

Reuben Lewis will start in his role on 2 August 2019. His appointment is for one year.

The Pathfinders – Music Leadership Program is generously supported by the Ian Potter Foundation. For its various activities in 2019/2020, the AAO receives support from Australia Council for the Arts, the City of Melbourne, Portland House Foundation and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

More about Reuben Lewis: