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Movie legend John Williams and more power NZSO’s 2023 Season

News: 7 October 2022

NZSO media release.

The music of cinema legend John Williams will be celebrated in two special concert programmes by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra in 2023.

The tribute concerts feature Williams’ music from more than 15 films, including Jaws, Star Wars, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Jurassic Park and Harry Potter.

In Wellington and Auckland, the NZSO will be joined by one of the world’s greatest violinists Anne-Sophie Mutter, a long-time Williams collaborator, including three albums with the Oscar-winning composer since 2019.

Mutter’s performances, led by NZSO Artistic Advisor and Principal Conductor Gemma New, include Williams’ Violin Concerto No. 2, written especially for the Grammy Award-winning virtuoso. She will also perform several of Williams’ movie themes, arranged by Williams for Mutter and orchestra.

The Williams’ concerts are part of the NZSO’s 2023 Season announced today, featuring more than 100 concerts. The Orchestra will perform in 21 communities, from Kerikeri to Invercargill.

Also in 2023, the NZSO will be led for the first time by esteemed German conductor André de Ridder.

De Ridder is known for his work across music genres, ranging from classical and opera, to electronic and pop. He’s featured on albums by Gorillaz, electronic duo Mouse on Mars, Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood and Max Richter’s hit 2012 interpretation of Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons.

With the NZSO, de Ridder’s three concert programmes include a work by Bryce Dessner of American band The National, jazz great Wynton Marsalis’ Blues Symphony and the outstanding contemporary work Become Ocean by Pulitzer Prize and Grammy Award winner John Luther Adams.

Other international soloists and conductors to join with the NZSO in 2023 include English pianist Paul Lewis, who performs Beethoven’s piano concertos in Wellington, Christchurch and Tauranga. The concerts, with the NZSO conducted by Brazilian Eduardo Strausser, follow Lewis’ critically acclaimed Beethoven performances with the NZSO in Auckland this year.

Celebrated American pianist Joyce Yang returns for concerts in Wellington and Auckland with the NZSO conducted for the first time by six-time Grammy Award-winning conductor Giancarlo Guerrero. The conductor will also lead the NZSO National Youth Orchestra for two concerts.

Another legendary conductor to make his NZSO debut is the renowned Sir Donald Runnicles in concerts with sought-after German-French cellist Nicolas Altstaedt in Wellington and Auckland

Large-scale productions and special collaborations also feature in the NZSO’s 2023 Season.

Mana Moana in Auckland sees the NZSO collaborate with a Pasifika choir in performances of traditional songs from across the Pacific.

Mahler’s monumental Third Symphony – one of the longest symphonies ever written – will feature more than 100 musicians, two-time Grammy Award-winning alto Sasha Cooke, Voices New Zealand and multiple children’s choirs.

Innovative composer Alexander Scriabin’s The Poem of Ecstasy is included in concerts in Dunedin and Hamilton conducted by New and featuring soprano Madeleine Pierard and NZSO Section Principal Flute Bridget Douglas.

Also returning in 2023 is an extensive tour performing much-loved Baroque music and the NZSO’s popular Setting Up Camp where the Orchestra performs in communities for several days. In 2023 the NZSO takes Setting Up Camp to Havelock North, Hamilton, Taupō, Hastings, Wellington, Carterton and Kāpiti.

NZSO Chief Executive Peter Biggs said that with Aotearoa New Zealand reconnecting with the world, the Orchestra is proud to bring audiences more of the best international artists and an array of top Kiwi talent.

“Anne-Sophie Mutter, Paul Lewis, Joyce Yang, Sasha Cooke, Nicolas Altstaedt, André de Ridder, Giancarlo Guerrero and Sir Donald Runnicles are among the most talented and revered artists in music today. To have them alongside our best musicians and conductors in 2023 is exciting for both the Orchestra and audiences.

“We’re very conscious that we are privileged to be the orchestra for all New Zealanders – so, we’re thrilled to bring unforgettable music experiences to more than 20 centres and communities in 2023, and expand our collaborations, including the Pasifika community with Mana Moana. Whether you’ve supported the NZSO for decades or are a first-timer, there’s so much to choose from next year.”

“We have an extraordinarily talented national orchestra in Aotearoa. The 2023 Season’s vibrant repertoire of performances is a reflection of its international reputation,” said Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Hon Carmel Sepuloni.

“With Aotearoa New Zealand now open to the world – this presents a brilliant opportunity for audiences nationwide to witness our own incredible performers collaborating with great names from abroad. I eagerly look forward to experiencing one of the many showcases planned throughout the country.”

For more details on all confirmed concerts in the NZSO’s 2023 Season go to

Tickets go on sale 7 October for NZSO Members. Full or Lite memberships are available via

Updated on 14th February 2023