Riverside County Philharmonic’s music director for nearly 20 years

Times Staff Writer

Patrick Flynn, the music director of the Riverside County Philharmonic for 19 years who also guest-conducted ballet, opera and classical orchestras around the world, has died. He was 72.

Flynn died Sept. 10 of a pulmonary embolism at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, said Jacqueline Porter, a former wife who remained a close friend. He had been a resident of Los Angeles.

“For most of his life, Patrick brought beautiful symphonic music to thousands of music lovers around the world,” James B. Henderson, president of the Riverside County Philharmonic board of directors, said in a statement on the orchestra’s website. This season the orchestra will be led by guest conductors until a new music director is named.

Flynn began his music career in Sydney, Australia, in the late 1960s, working as a composer and conductor. He wrote scores for Australian films including “Mad Dog Morgan” (1976) with Dennis Hopper as a bushranger in the 1860s. He also wrote a rock opera, “Ned Kelly,” based on the life of the Australian outlaw. It premiered in Sydney in 1978.


Starting in the late 1960s, Flynn conducted a number of Australian productions of Broadway musicals, including “Hair,” and was a frequent guest conductor with the Australian Opera in Sydney. He worked with internationally known opera singers Dame Joan Sutherland and Kiri Te Kanawa, among others.

Flynn moved to New York City in the late 1970s and was a staff conductor with the American Ballet Theatre for two years. He continued to build a career as a guest conductor working with top-flight orchestras. He led performances by the BBC Orchestra in London, the Paris Opera and Finnish National Opera, among others. For several years he was a principal guest conductor for the North Carolina Symphony in Raleigh.

In the 1980s, Flynn wrote orchestrations and incidental music for several full-length productions of the American Ballet Theatre, including “Don Quixote,” created by Mikhail Baryshnikov. He also conducted ballet performances by the Dance Theatre of Harlem, the San Francisco Ballet and other leading companies.

Flynn was born in Birmingham, England, on May 18, 1936. He studied piano for many years and graduated from the Royal Academy of Music in London with a diploma in conducting. After graduation, he continued his studies with British conductor Sir John Barbirolli for about 10 years.


He served in the British Army for two years in the mid-1960s, giving piano concerts for British troops and the general public in Singapore and other Asian cities.

He continued guest-conducting after he was named music director of the Riverside County Philharmonic in 1989.

For one concert by the Los Angeles Mozart Orchestra in 1992, Flynn “put together a challenging, emotionally resonant agenda” and “conducted it with authority and wit,” according to a review in The Times.

Both of Flynn’s marriages ended in divorce. He has no immediate survivors.

Members of the Riverside Philharmonic are planning a memorial service for Flynn on Oct. 5 at 2 p.m. at the Riverside Municipal Auditorium, 3485 Mission Inn Ave.