NZSO principal conductor Gemma New receives King’s Birthday honour

The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra’s principal conductor Gemma New has been made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to music direction in the King’s Birthday Honours.

New, who grew up in Wellington, has been the NZSO’s artistic adviser and principal conductor since 2022.

She learnt of the honour while conducting in Europe, which included three concerts with the BBC Philharmonic this week.

“I feel deeply grateful and honoured to be appointed as an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit,” she said.

New was thrilled that the role of orchestral music in New Zealand, especially the performances by NZSO musicians, was being recognised.

Following the BBC Philharmonic, she has concerts in Germany and the United States before her the prestigious BBC Proms in London in August.

“I wouldn’t be able to share my passion for music now, if I hadn’t experienced my first Mahler in the NZSO National Youth Orchestra or been inspired by the performances of many exceptional colleagues and peers while growing up here in New Zealand,” she said.

“It gives me great joy to bring support to the new generations of musicians and music lovers, and to see our classical music community blossom and thrive.”

New was also the music director for Canada’s Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra for nine seasons until last month and in 2021, she was profiled in the The New York Times as part of a new generation of conductors making waves in North America.

Her next concert with the NZSO is Jupiter: Mozart & Copland in Wellington, Hastings, Auckland and Christchurch from 19 September.

“Gemma is a wonderfully talented and deeply knowledgeable conductor who is passionate about orchestral music and an exemplary champion of our living composers,” NZSO acting chief executive Kirsten Mason said.

“Each concert that she conducts draws in new audience members to the NZSO and deepens the relationship with our existing audiences.”

The King’s Birthday honour would be celebrated by every member of the orchestra and the whole music community, she said.

“This honour will be a cause for celebration by all musicians and an inspiration to young New Zealanders who dream about becoming a conductor.”

Mason said New was sought-after by prestigious orchestras around the world.

“Each year she breaks new ground for a New Zealand conductor.

“She is a star both here and on the world stage. We are looking forward to celebrating this fantastic achievement with Gemma when she returns to conduct us in September.”

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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