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NZSO National Youth Orchestra celebrates 60 years of music

4 June 2019 – NZSO media release for immediate release

NZSO National Youth Orchestra celebrates 60 years of music making

The NZSO National Youth Orchestra celebrates its milestone 60th anniversary in July with special collaborative concerts with the New Zealand Youth Choir.

NYO Celebrates in Wellington and Auckland will feature mesmerising Australian mezzo-soprano Catherine Carby and the Orchestra conducted by acclaimed NZSO Music Director Emeritus James Judd.

The collaboration with the New Zealand Youth Choir also marks the choir’s 40th anniversary this year.

“It is a truly exciting honour to be conducting the NYO 60th Anniversary concert, all the more so since it combines with the celebration of the Youth Choir’s 40th” says Maestro Judd, NZSO Music Director from 1999 to 2007.

“I fondly remember my previous work with the NYO and look forward to once again having the experience of making music with such gifted and passionate young musicians. The quality of young instrumentalists and singers emerging from New Zealand is always impressive and on a par with the best around the world.

“These concerts not only celebrate the great achievements of the past, but most importantly look forward to a future when these highly gifted young musicians will ensure the continuation of great music.”

Many successful New Zealand musicians, including numerous NZSO players, began their careers in the National Youth Orchestra.

NYO Celebrates, in Association with the Adam Foundation, will open with the Orchestra and Choir performing the world premiere of light speckled droplet by NYO Composer-in-Residence Glen Downie.

The Choir will then perform Robert Wiremu’s arrangement of Tuirina Wehi’s haunting waiata Waerenga-a-Hika, inspired by the siege of Waerenga-a-Hika pa near Gisborne in 1865.

The Orchestra will follow with The Oceanides, Finnish composer Jean Sibelius’ evocative tone poem inspired by the ancient water nymphs of Greek mythology.

Catherine Carby will join the National Youth Orchestra and Youth Choir for the finale – a rare performance of British composer Edward Elgar’s The Music Makers.

“If you want to hear world class singing, that’s what you’ll get from mezzo-soprano Catherine Carby,” wrote Britain’s The Independent.

The Music Makers, which premiered in 1912, takes its libretto from the 1874 poem Ode by Arthur O’Shaughnessy. It was first performed in New Zealand 60 years ago and has only been performed a few times since.

Before NYO Celebrates, Maestro Judd will talk about his exceptional career and passion for music as part of the NZSO’s 2019 In Conversation series.

In Conversation with James Judd will be held at Crowne Plaza, Auckland on 23 June. Hosted by NZSO Section Principal Trombonist David Bremner, it’s an opportunity to learn more about the world-class conductor, enjoy music by NZSO players, and a glass of Craggy Range wine.

Tickets to NYO Celebrates are only $10 and available at

Tickets to In Conversation with James Judd are $35 or $25 for a multi-ticket bundle. To book phone 0800 479 674 or email

NYO Celebrates

in Association with the Adam Foundation

JAMES JUDD Conductor



DAVID SQUIRE NZ Youth Choir Music Director

GLEN DOWNIE light speckled droplet (World premiere)
SIBELIUS The Oceanides, Op. 73

ELGAR The Music Makers, Op. 69

WELLINGTON | Michael Fowler Centre| Friday 5 July| 7.30pm

AUCKLAND | Town Hall| Saturday 6 July| 7.30pm



James Judd led the NZSO’s first-ever appearance at The Proms in Britain in 2005. He made several recordings with the NZSO and continues to conduct many of the world’s top orchestras. In 2017 he became Music Director and Chief Conductor of the Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra and is the Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of Korea’s Daejeon Philharmonic Orchestra.


Catherine Carby studied at the Canberra School of Music and the Royal College of Music. Her many roles have included Kate Pinkerton in Madame Butterfly for English National Opera, Octavian in Der Rosenkavalier for Scottish Opera and Brangäne in Tristan und Isolde for Longborough Festival Opera.

Her concert engagements have included Beethoven Symphony No. 9 with the Philharmonia, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the Ulster Orchestra, Sea Pictures with the Melbourne and Queensland Symphony Orchestras, Messiah for the Sydney Philharmonia Choirs and at the Three Choirs Festival, Haydn’s Arianna auf Naxos with the NZSO and a Verdi Gala for the Hallé Orchestra. Roles for Opera Australia include Carmen (title role), Octavian (Der Rosenkavalier) and Suzuki (Madame Butterfly).

Her recordings and broadcasts include Satanella, Messiah for the BBC, The Love for Three Oranges, Der Rosenkavalier for Opera Australia and Classic 100 Opera.


Founded in 1979, the award-winning New Zealand Youth Choir comprises around 50 singers aged 18-25. It has toured overseas 11 times, including the UK, Europe, North America, Australia, Singapore, Russia, South Korea and China.


Wellington-based Glen Downie completed his Master of Musical Arts at Te Kōkī New Zealand School of Music and has won multiple prizes and awards. He wrote light speckled droplet as Composer in Residence with the NZSO National Youth Orchestra. The piece is an elaboration and further development of his 2014 work, Kaleidoscopic Terrain.


Waerenga-a-Hika was inspired by the siege of Waerenga-a-Hika pa in 1865 by the Crown. Seventy-one occupants of the pa were killed and 100 wounded, while the Crown suffered 11 dead and 20 wounded. Most of the siege survivors were deported to the Chatham Islands, where they were held without trial until their escape two years later.

Originally written for kapa haka group and guitar, the New Zealand Youth Choir performs Robert Wiremu’s arrangement for a capella choir.


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