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70 years of music with the NZSO in 2017

Kiwis are proud of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. One of the world’s oldest national symphony orchestras, we have performed music to New Zealanders for 70 years and we’re still going strong. Recently nominated for a prestigious Grammy Award, the NZSO continues to attract many of the world’s leading conductors and soloists each year, who tour the length and breadth of Aotearoa alongside our exceptional musicians.

NZSO 2017 season image.

When the War ended in 1945, plans for a full-time national orchestra were revived and on 24 October 1946 the NZSO was born. Now, in its 70th birthday year, it will blow away all your expectations. You’ll be hooked.

Our 2017 Season offers more exceptional performances from your national orchestra, more Masterworks from our acclaimed Music Director Edo de Waart and more mind-blowing musicianship from our impressive line-up of virtuoso musicians.

I was built to perform music; I cannot live without it. In dark times classical music is more than a pleasure but a symbol of what humanity, at our finest, can achieve.

NZSO Music Director Edo de Waart.

Opening the exciting line-up of concerts is our Summer Pops tour with the Modern Māori Quartet before our celebration of the NZSO’s inaugural concert, which took place on 6 March, 1947 at the Wellington Town Hall. Curated by our NZSO musicians, this special concert will mark our 70th birthday with significant works that celebrate the rich history of the Orchestra.

Music critic Rod Biss remembers the NZSO’s inaugural concert on 6 March, 1947 at the Wellington Town Hall:

Aged 12 and still at primary school, I was the youngest person there; I know I had to be told to sit still an awful lot, but Dvořák’s Carnival Overture, which opened the programme, has never lost its magic for me since then. It was an inspired choice; imagine the effect of that brassy, cymbal-crashing opening and the way that the trombones swirl out at the end on ears that have never heard an orchestra before - it was thrilling and I was hooked.

Rod Biss.

Edo de Waart’s Masterworks composers re-emerge in 2017 with Strauss, Mozart and Brahms and we explore some of the music which de Waart has loved since youth, from Mahler’s First Symphony to Beethoven’s Pastorale.  New Zealand audiences can also look forward to the Maestro’s inaugural opera in concert with the NZSO - Berlioz’s Damnation of Faust, complete with the NZ Opera Chorus and the acclaimed voices of Eric Owens and Andrew Staples. This is an exciting opportunity to see the Maestro at his best. As Chief Conductor of De Nederlandse Opera from 1999 to 2004, de Waart has enjoyed success in a large and varied operatic repertoire in many of the world’s greatest opera houses including The Metropolitan Opera.

Popular Dutch violinist Janine Jansen returns as part of another impressive line-up of international artists including cellist Narek Hakhnazaryan, pianists Freddy Kempf and Joyce Yang, percussionist Colin Currie, conductor Sir James MacMillan, violinist Karen Gomyo, mezzo-soprano Michelle DeYoung, and clarinet virtuoso Martin Fröst. We offer an evening of Rachmaninov plus exciting compositions by New Zealanders David Grahame Taylor, Gareth Farr, Leonie Holmes and Salina Fisher.

In the spirit of sharing, we offer twentieth century treasures in John Adams, Sir James MacMillan and Thomas Adès. Such works will become core repertoire of the future; perhaps we may ignite a love affair with this music that will burn in you for years.

NZSO Music Director Edo de Waart.

New Zealand conductor Hamish McKeich has been appointed by Edo de Waart as NZSO Associate Conductor in 2017. Hamish has forged an impressive international conducting career alongside a passion for developing the repertoire of contemporary and experimental music. Recently, he led the successful NZSO Family Concerts series in Takapuna, Manukau, Napier, Gisborne and Ruatoria and he has been a welcome stalwart in numerous NZSO tours over the years.

He will assist de Waart throughout the Season as well as conduct a number of programmes including the Season opener - Summer Pops tour with the Modern Māori Quartet and the New Zealand world premiere of Gareth Farr’s Cello Concerto Chemin des Dames in Aotearoa Plus, featuring French cello virtuoso Sébastien Hurtaud.

Commenting on this significant 2017 Season, NZSO Chief Executive Christopher Blake says:

The NZSO is a national treasure. Seventy years on, the NZSO is at the pinnacle of orchestral achievement in New Zealand and is recognised as an orchestra of international standing. Since its foundation it has become a dynamic flagship of music in our country and it continues to grow and develop artistically, taking an exciting and diverse programme of music to communities all around New Zealand.

Music Director Edo de Waart’s inspiring Masterworks series has set a strong foundation for the NZSO to head into its eighth decade as one of New Zealand’s most significant cultural organisations. We are excited to continue bearing the fruits of this uplifting relationship with Maestro de Waart in 2017 and we look forward to presenting more superb concert experiences for New Zealanders to enjoy.

By now, you should have received our 2017 NZSO Season Brochure. We hope you have enjoyed browsing through our exciting 2017 concerts. If you haven’t received a copy, then please email to request one.

You can also view the 2017 NZSO Season on our new website at:

NZSO Season 17. Be proud. Be here.


Updated on 13th April 2017