New Zealand born Willem van der Vis studied physics before focusing on music, playing principal cello with the Dunedin Sinfonia and New Zealand Symphony Training Orchestra.
In 1979 he moved to Australia, where he became a member of the West Australian Symphony Orchestra. He then decided to study conducting at The University of Melbourne under Professor John Hopkins.
He is now Musical Director of the Maroondah Symphony Orchestra, the Murray Conservatorium Chamber Orchestra and Margaret Sutherland Strings. He has also conducted Stonnington and New Monash Symphony Orchestras, Ballarat Symphony Orchestra and many other orchestras and stage shows.