Lauded New Zealand conductor Gemma New will lead the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra for the first time with concerts in Wellington, Dunedin, Christchurch and Auckland in August and September.
Hailed as “one of the brightest rising stars in the conducting firmament” by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, New has taken North America by storm. She is Resident Conductor of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, Music Director of the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra, Principal Guest Conductor of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and Music Director of the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra in Canada.
New’s 2020 engagements with the NZSO were announced last year and the Orchestra is delighted to bring the conductor home for her NZSO debut and to enable her to work with other New Zealand orchestras.
New’s concert tour Passion in association with InterContinental Hotels Group, features New Zealand composer Robin Toan’s TÅ«-mata-uenga “God of War, Spirit of Man”, NZSO Section Principal Cellist Andrew Joyce performing Elgar’s famous Cello Concerto, and Tchaikovsky’s timeless Symphony No. 6 Pathétique.
New says she first encountered Toan’s piece while a member of the NZSO National Youth Orchestra in 2005. “I remember the piece making a positive impression on both the Orchestra and audiences alike. Fast-forwarding to today, the fierce passion and bold energy of TÅ«-mata-uenga makes for a perfect compliment to the Elgar Cello Concerto and Tchaikovsky’s Pathétique.”
Elgar’s Cello Concert was his last major work and it has become one of the most popular works for the cello. Joyce’s solo performances with the NZSO include his critically acclaimed interpretation in 2018 of Tchaikovsky’s Variations on a Rococo Theme, praised as “impeccable” and played “with absolute assuredness and understanding”.
In addition to Passion, New will conduct the NZSO Shed Series concerts Cadence in Wellington and Auckland. Featuring works from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries by Brahms, Mozart, Stravinsky, Schulhoff and acclaimed New Zealand composer Maria Grenfell, Cadence will be performed at Wellington’s Shed 6 and for the first time in Auckland at Rangatira Q Theatre.
“There’s a joyful abundance of dancing in this Cadence programme. Most of these pieces are obviously dances, as they have them written in the title,” says New.
“But there is one delicious secret – Erwin Schulhoff’s Suite for Chamber Orchestra. In this piece, you hear the confident voice of a young musical prodigy who had the support of fellow Czech composer Antonín DvoÅák. You hear the darkness of his horrific experiences fighting in the First World War. There’s his fondness for 1920s nightclub dancing – ragtime, Boston waltz, tango, shimmy and step – plus the absurd tongue-in-cheek of Dadaism that was in full swing at the time.”
Tickets to Passion and Cadence are available via ticketmaster.co.nz. Stall tickets to Passion in Wellington and Auckland are $30.
A livestream of the Wellington Passion concert can be viewed for free at live.nzso.co.nz