HPO ex­tends Gemma New’s con­tract to 2021

The Hamilton Spectator - - A&E - THE HAMIL­TON SPEC­TA­TOR

The Hamil­ton Philharmonic Or­ches­tra has ex­tended the con­tract of mu­si­cal di­rec­tor and con­duc­tor Gemma New through the 2020/21 sea­son.

The 30-year-old na­tive of New Zealand orig­i­nally signed a three­year con­tract with the HPO in May of 2015 fol­low­ing an ex­ten­sive in­ter­na­tional search to re­place out­go­ing con­duc­tor James Som­merville.

Af­ter two sea­sons of strong au­di­ence ap­proval, how­ever, the HPO board of di­rec­tors de­cided to re­new her con­tract for a sec­ond term.

“Since join­ing us in spring of 2015, we have rec­og­nized Gemma’s vi­sion in pro­gram­ming am­bi­tious and re­ward­ing works for the main­stage and con­tribut­ing greatly to our out­reach pro­grams across the re­gion,” HPO board chair Jan­ice Locke said in a state­ment.

New made her main­stage de­but as HPO mu­si­cal di­rec­tor in Fe­bru­ary 2016, to rave re­views con­duct­ing Prokofiev’s Sec­ond Pi­ano Con­certo and Shostakovich’s Sym­phony No. 1.

“It has been a true joy and in­spi­ra­tion to work with the mu­si­cians and staff of the HPO th­ese past two sea­sons,” New said.

“This ex­cel­lent or­ches­tra is ad­mirably cen­tral to Hamil­ton’s arts cul­ture and com­mu­nity. I look for­ward to lead­ing the HPO’s artis­tic vi­sion for th­ese fu­ture sea­sons.”

In ad­di­tion to her role as Mu­sic Di­rec­tor of the HPO, New also holds the post of res­i­dent con­duc­tor of the St. Louis Sym­phony Or­ches­tra and keeps a busy guest con­duct­ing sched­ule across North Amer­ica, as well as up­com­ing en­gage­ments in Europe.

At the time of her hir­ing, New was one of only three fe­male di­rec­tors of a ma­jor pro­fes­sional or­ches­tra in Canada.

A vi­o­lin­ist by train­ing, New started con­duct­ing at age 15, and scored her first pro­fes­sional con­duct­ing job in Christchurch four years later.

She then went on to ob­tain a mas­ter’s de­gree in con­duct­ing at Baltimore’s Pe­abody Con­ser­va­tory. In 2010, she founded the flex­i­ble, nine­piece new mu­sic col­lec­tive, Lu­nar En­sem­ble, based in Baltimore.

She has guest con­ducted in the United States, Scot­land, and in Canada with L’Orchestre sym­phonique de Trois-Rivières. She was as­sis­tant con­duc­tor at the New Jersey Sym­phony Or­ches­tra for two years be­fore be­com­ing as­so­ciate con­duc­tor.

In 2012, she was awarded an Ans­bacher Fel­low­ship to spend up to four weeks at the Salzburg Fes­ti­val to ob­serve con­duc­tors in re­hearsals and per­for­mances. In 2014, she was named a Du­damel Con­duct­ing Fel­low with the Los An­ge­les Philharmonic.

CATHIE COWARD, THE HAMIL­TON SPEC­TA­TOR

Gemma New

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