August 15, 2022

Media Highlights of Gemma New's first appearances as Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor of the NZSO

Top praise has been pouring in from media on Gemma New’s first performances with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra as Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor at their Winter Festival “Immerse” in programs featuring soloists Hilary Hahn and Paul Lewis.

Simon Holden of Bachtrack: “The strings responded wonderfully to New’s direction, with a concentration of tone that portrayed angst effectively. New commanded the movement’s tempo changes organically. Throughout, New had superb control of the orchestra, giving the movement a rubato ebb and flow that always sounded perfectly natural. Her direction continued to be enthralling in a grief-stricken account of the Adagio, strings responding eloquently once again, emotion surging through their long phrases.”

Max Rashbrooke of Stuff: “New and the NZSO gave a poignant account of New Zealand composer John Rimmer’s Lahar, and a superb rendition of Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5. Some of the orchestra’s best playing in recent memory.”

William Dart of The New Zealand Herald: “The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra’s Beethoven immersion weekend toured us through 14 crucial years of the composer’s career with style, thanks to that fine English pianist Paul Lewis and principal conductor Gemma New. A cycle of five piano concertos might not encompass the quarter-century span of nine symphonies, but a fascinating journey culminated in a superb Sunday afternoon Emperor. Pianist and conductor were determined to bring out the dance as a key to much of this music. Signing off on Sunday, a mega-powered Scheherazade allowed us to enjoy New’s podium style.”

Anne French of Middle C: “A dazzling and beautiful concert. Bravo!”

Steven Sedley of Middle C:

“What a splendid concert this was! The orchestra was at its best. I have never heard them play better. They appear to have a special rapport with Gemma New, the newly appointed Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.”

“She seemed to draw music out of the very essence of the players in the orchestra with her meticulous attention to details, to phrasing, to dynamics, yet giving the solo instrumentalists space to play their lines freely.”

“Soloist and conductor, two prodigiously talented young women, were of one mind with total mutual understanding.”

On Shostakovich: “One will never hear a better performance of this work than this one under the baton of Gemma New.”

“This was a stupendous concert. The NZSO has never played better than this ... you can’t afford to miss Gemma New’s next outing with the NZSO. She is an extraordinary talent, and her knack for exciting programming is so very welcome.”

Tamsin Evans of Regional News: Eyes on Wellington: “Hahn’s playing was exquisite and so impressed the audience, many broke into applause after only the first movement. Although a concerto for violin, Brahms wrote equally demanding passages for the orchestra and the NZSO proved more than equal to the challenge.”

John Daly-Peoples of New Zealand Arts Review: “New extracted nuance and subtly giving the work a lightness and innocence before erupting into a joyous reworking of the opening theme.”

Stephen Gibbs of DMS Review Blog: “The conductor, Gemma New: her commitment, her enthusiasm, her physical will to contain all the music that was around her in an astral way. She was mesmerising.”

William Dart of The New Zealand Herald: “The programme fully justified its title of Truth and Beauty. The two women made for an elegant and simpatica team in Prokofiev's First Violin Concerto. New deftly cued her players with all-important balance, while a relaxed Hahn paid effortless tribute to the composer's unflagging ingenuity.”