April 8, 2024

Top praise for Gemma New’s New Zealand Symphony Orchestra performances

New Zealand Arts Review wrote:

“The audiences was then treated to a remarkable display from Jacob Nissly, the soloist, who is the San Francisco Symphony’s Principal Percussionist. From his first appearance at the front of the hall playing a snare drum he combined the style of a professional percussion player and that of an outlandish rock band drummer.”

“The measure of a great performance is the way in which these aspects of the composer’s life are realized by the conductor and the orchestra. Conductor Gemma New and the NZSO certainly achieved it with an intelligent and emotional performance.”

“From the opening trumpet blast to the final triumphant conclusion, New was firmly in control of the orchestra, understanding the drama, inventions and contrasts of the music. She seemed by turns, a battling duallist, a lithe dancer and meticulous guide.”

Regional News wrote:

“Conductor Gemma New was on fire throughout this performance and she drew an impassioned response from the orchestra, soloist, and audience.”

Salina Fisher’s ‘Kintsugi’ was beautifully evocative of the Japanese practice of using melted gold to reassemble broken pottery... The gold shimmered while limpid and singular sounds shot through the denser orchestration.”

“The soloist was the extraordinarily rhythmic Jacob Nissly from the San Francisco Symphony, who displayed such athleticism as he moved around his array of instruments and such co-ordination to simultaneously wield drum mallets on one instrument while his foot operated another. The audience loved it.”

“But it was, in the end, the Mahler symphony that really electrified the audience... This symphony is always wonderful for its depth and range of feeling, but truly I think this was an exceptional performance. One has to acknowledge the horn and trumpet players for their delivery of some of the most dramatic moments, but the intensity of the whole orchestra’s playing throughout was even more striking. New’s interpretation of the work and her ability to draw the shape and passion she wanted from NZSO players were exceptional.”

The Post wrote:

“The soloist, San Francisco Symphony principal percussionist Jacob Nissly, had passages of glowing, ethereal beauty juxtaposed against the orchestra’s apocalyptic crescendos.”

“From the outset, New radiated a coiled energy, her baton quivering as she sculpted a sharp and tautly outlined first movement. Whereas the two main themes can sometimes seem to have come from different planets, here New ensured consistency of texture, the colours and tones of one theme always reflected in the other.”

“The famous fourth movement had everything one could want, as New captured that vital sense of tremulous joy, that impression of being lifted – suspended, even – in love. A bright, scurrying finale, full of a sense of hard-won happiness, brought a concert of sharp contrasts to a splendid close.”

New Zealand Herald wrote:

“Strings, scored with Fisher’s customary finesse, lent a harmonic weight to proceedings that suggested we had moved with grace from the world of modest ceramics to that of discreetly monumental sculpture.”

Adam Schoenberg’s ‘Losing Earth,’ a percussion concerto centered on the theme of climate change, was massively effective with its spectacular array of instruments, upon which soloist Jacob Nissly vented his virtuosity.”

“New’s dramatic body movements complemented Nissly’s deft moves as she marshalled the considerable drama, heightened by orchestral percussionists playing from the circle.”

“The adagio, the beating heart of the work, was appropriately heartrending, and the final movement a glorious celebration — not only of marital bliss, but equally of Mahlers growing contrapuntal and orchestral confidence, done full justice by orchestra and conductor.”