Skip to main content

Internationally renowned New Zealander appointed NZSO Artistic Advisor and Principal Conductor

News: 28 February 2022

NZSO media release.

New Zealander Gemma New, in demand by orchestras around the world, has been appointed Artistic Advisor and Principal Conductor of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra Te Tira Pūoro o Aotearoa. Her title takes immediate effect with the start of the 2022 season and lasts for three years, through the 2024 season.

New, 35, hailed as a rising star in North America and Europe, is Music Director of Canada’s Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra and Principal Guest Conductor of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. Last year she was profiled in The New York Times as one of a select group of conductors to watch.

Image of Artistic Advisor and Principal Conductor Gemma New, image by Roy Cox Photography, courtesy of the NZSO.

She made her NZSO debut in 2020 to critical acclaim. The New Zealand Herald said the audience were on the edge of their seats, captivated by her “exquisitely finessed” conducting.

When New returned in 2021 for several NZSO concerts, including Matariki, The Dominion Post declared: “New’s conducting was again magnificent, her dynamic and rhythmic control immaculate and even the warmest, most indulgent moments shaped with absolute clarity.”

As a senior member of the NZSO’s artistic team, New will conduct a wide range of programmes with the Orchestra, perform in several New Zealand centres, advise closely on the direction of programming, projects, collaborations and contribute to other artistic matters for the Orchestra.

She joins NZSO Principal Conductor-in-Residence Hamish McKeich, Honorary Conductor Pietari Inkinen and Music Director Emeritus James Judd in furthering the NZSO’s artistic excellence and reaching new audiences.

“It has been a joy to collaborate with the NZSO these past few seasons, and I am thrilled to be joining this exceptional team that so valuably contributes to the vibrant music scene in Aotearoa, New Zealand,” says New.

“During each and every programme we have performed together, I have been deeply impressed and inspired by the excellence, passion, dedication and inventiveness of the musicians and staff, and uplifted by the audience’s enthusiastic reception of our performances. I look forward to working with the NZSO in this new role and celebrating new heights together.”

NZSO Chief Executive Peter Biggs says New’s appointment is a coup for both the Orchestra, which celebrates its 75th anniversary in 2022, and Aotearoa New Zealand.

“As a conductor Gemma New is astonishing, which is why she is in such demand around the world. We’re delighted that, even with her many international commitments, Gemma is determined to take up this exciting new role with the NZSO. Her knowledge and experience with some of the world’s best orchestras, along with her close ties with New Zealand orchestras, makes her invaluable in her new role with the NZSO.

“Gemma will mesmerise audiences in concert with the Orchestra and make a significant contribution to what we play and do over the next three years. We’re also honoured to have Gemma join us during our 75th anniversary year, as we celebrate the innovations the NZSO has made to engage with even more New Zealanders.”

Over 2020 and 2021 New conducted seven programmes with the NZSO, which included some of the greatest works of the classical canon: Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, Shostakovich’s Leningrad Symphony and Handel’s Messiah. She also conducted works by New Zealand composers Gareth Farr, Maria Grenfell, Ihlara McIndoe, Anthony Ritchie and Robin Toan, and also recorded with the NZSO performances of Ravel’s La mère I’Oye and Elgar’s Serenade for Strings.

In 2022 New conducts in Wellington and Auckland three back-to-back concerts with multi-Grammy Award-winning American violinist Hilary Hahn as part of the NZSO’s winter festival in August, followed in November by Mozart’s monumental Requiem in a programme also featuring New Zealand composer John Psathas’ Seikilos.

In 2023 she will lead the NZSO in Auckland, Wellington and other centres, including Christchurch, Napier and Tauranga.

New is sought-after by many leading orchestras around the world. This season she guest conducts WDR Symphonie-Orchestra Köln and the Orchestra National de l’Île de Paris. Recent guest engagements have included Montreal Symphony and Toronto Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, New York Philharmonic, BBC Philharmonic and Hallé Orchestra, among others. She is a former Conducting Fellow under the mentorship of Los Angeles Philharmonic's Music Director Gustavo Dudamel. This past year New was granted America’s prestigious Sir Georg Solti Conducting Award.

A proud Kiwi, New grew up in Wellington and it was as a member of the NZSO National Youth Orchestra where she had one of her first experiences conducting. New is a strong advocate for performing music by New Zealand composers both locally and internationally, and she brings a passion and commitment to encouraging the younger generations of New Zealand musicians and music-lovers.

View Gemma New conducting the NZSO in 2021 at

Updated on 4th March 2022