Nicholas Milton likes to remind his musicians, on a regular basis, of what business they're in.
"We're in the beauty business," he tells them.
"The business of making something beautiful. Something that in some mysterious way touches people's souls.''
And, as his 16-year stint at the helm of the Canberra Symphony Orchestra draws to a close, his sense of what's important about his job has only grown stronger.
Speaking from Germany, where he has lived part-time for the past 14 years, he said his philosophy had always been "to enrich people's lives, to speak personally to them, and to offer them a vision for a better and more harmonious society".
For thousands of Canberra music-lovers, he has delivered in spades during his time here.
Bridging the gap between serious musical kudos - he had a distinguished career as a violinist and chamber musician before dedicating himself to conducting - and serious charisma, he's become known over the years for taking audiences on roller-coasters between space, time and emotion.
He's every bit the serious conductor and a commanding presence, but delights in on-stage antics and witty conservation.
"I'm the only person on stage not making any sound at all," he once told a journalist.
"The job of a conductor is to inspire the musicians to want to give their best. It's a mystery how that works. All I know is it seems to be working for me, internationally and here in Canberra."
He has also long maintained that he can only claim part of the credit for the chemistry he produces onstage.
"You see the animation on stage. Not just from me but from every musician there ... we have a joyful approach here.''
It is, above all, a dialogue between him and his orchestra, and the audience watching behind him.
"[Music] is surely a universal language and my approach is to mould every moment in a concert, whether it's how I greet the audience or how we present the music at that moment in time, to open souls and minds to the magic and power of orchestral music," he told The Canberra Times.
He said having been unable to travel here from Germany since March, he missed the country in which he felt most at home. Although he's been one of those global citizens for some years - flitting between continents and able, famously, to sleep instantly on a plane and thus conquer jet-lag - he will always remain emphatically Australian, and a Sydney boy at heart.
His successor, Jessica Cottis, is a globetrotter of a different stripe, a 40-year-old Australian based in London.
Conducting an orchestra in a town the size of Canberra will always involve criss-crossing the globe, and chasing the concert seasons. In Germany, where Milton is chief conductor and artistic director of the Gttingen Symphony Orchestra, and principal guest conductor of the North German Philharmonic Orchestra, he said he had grown used to the national obsession with opera, and the different sensibilities of audiences when it comes to new takes on traditional themes.
But he said he had, inevitably, grown to love the capital.
"I always miss Australia, and feel most at home, naturally, in the city in which I was born and grew up," he said. "But I have grown to love Canberra, its unique and effortless juxtaposition of glorious nature with bustling city, its fantastic museums and vibrant population, and above all, the people who attend CSO concerts and enjoy their orchestra with such passion and commitment."