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Rising young conductor from UC heads to the Hollywood Bowl

Canterbury graduate and rising young conductor heading to the Hollywood Bowl

July 22, 2014

A University of Canterbury graduate and one of the world’s rising young conductors, Gemma New, heads to the United states next week to assist the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl.

New, who is associate conductor of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, the American state's equivalent to the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, will assist maestro Gustavo Dudamel and the LA Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl.

She then heads to Germany in September on a Mendelssohn-Bartholdy Scholarship, to study with retired German conductor Kurt Masur and take up the baton in Leipzig. After the northern hemisphere summer, New has a full season ahead with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra.

Limelight magazine named New one of 30 brilliant musicians under the age of 30 and United States classical music radio station WQXR has listed her as one of the top five women conductors on the rise.

New says she was just fortunate with her audition to become an associate conductor at the New Jersey orchestra at such a young age when she was in her last year of her masters at the Peabody Conservatory.

She says musicians at the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra are not only of a phenomenal musical level, they're also very patient and encouraging and she loves working with them. New has conducted a number of orchestras in the United Kingdom, Canada, Europe and the United States including Carnegie Hall in New York.

“The best part of the Carnegie Hall concerts was working with the great musicians and the repertoire we performed. I conducted programmes including the music of Charles Ives, John Adams and Andrew Norman. John Adams, one of the greatest composers and conductors ever, coached us closely. Performing his music with first-hand knowledge of his ideas and wishes, and in his presence, was an experience I will treasure for a long time.

“It's a privilege to be recognised for the work I'm doing and I'm grateful for the support. Many doors have opened for me, but I've also often had to knock on the door, turn the handle, and walk through.

“University of Canterbury was the springboard to my career. I moved to Christchurch to study violin performance with Stephen Larsen at Canterbury. He is a tremendous violin teacher and has helped and coached so many young string players in New Zealand. It was a real privilege to have learnt from Stephen and I benefitted a lot from that experience.

“I did a bachelor of music (honours) at Canterbury. The School of Music had a supportive, close-knit group of music students while I was there and it was a fantastic atmosphere in which to study music. The campus was beautiful and I really enjoyed playing in their string quartet. I also studied a double degree in mathematics and found that the University of Canterbury was really flexible and versatile in letting me study at both departments.

“The University has a great community and I would encourage year 12 and 13 students considering studying at Canterbury to get involved and to get to know the other students. They could well become friends for life.”

New has received awards from the Dame Malvina Major Foundation, the New Zealand Federation of Graduate Women, the Kia Ora Foundation, the Peabody Institute, AMP, the Freemasons Society and the Adastra Foundation.

University of Canterbury’s School of Music head Dr Glenda Keam says New is an impressive graduate and musician.

“Whether that be conducting, playing, working with composers, or building a music community, she thrives on what musical experiences bring her and what it means for her connections with others,” Dr Keam says.


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