October 30, 2023

Top praise for Gemma New’s New Zealand Symphony Orchestra “Poem of Ecstasy” performances

Bachtrack wrote:

“Under the dynamic leadership of their Principal Conductor Gemma New, the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra offered a thrilling journey through the byways of twentieth century music, centered around Scriabin’s mystical Poem of Ecstasy, but with stops in New Zealand, Finland and the impressionist France of Debussy and Ravel.”

“New took to Scriabin’s alternately perfumed and orgiastic soundscapes superbly, giving the piece an unceasing momentum.”

“The orchestra’s Principal Flautist, Bridget Douglas, impressed with both the purity and clarity of her tone.”

Madeleine Pierard surmounted its challenges easily, expertly placing the vocal line’s demanding intervals and soaring up to a high C-flat without any strain. With New and orchestra providing a suitably agitated underpinning, Pierard’s vocalisms evoked brilliantly the anguish of the character.”

“Dynamic in the rhythm, New gave exciting verve and raw energy to the stunning conclusion of the “Danse générale”, bringing this enjoyable selection of twentieth century music to a close.”

New Zealand Arts Review wrote:

Gemma New led the orchestra with a precision to detail and the sumptuous music provided a sense of an enveloping tenderness and sensuality.”

“The darkened Town Hall saw a spotlit Douglas playing her flute while standing high above the orchestra. The solo work, Debussy’s Syrinx was delivered with brilliant technique which provided a warm graceful sound.”

“There was an operatic dimension to Pierard’s dramatic singing and her stage presence conveyed the drama of the young woman buffeted by the forces of nature and the elements.”

“The work opened with the orchestra creating images of nature, the woodwinds taking on the sounds of an idyll – birds tweeting, leaves rustling and rushing waters.”

Regional News wrote:

“Learning Scriabin was synaesthetic made sense of the music. If sound was colour for me, I imagine I would also want to celebrate that with noise and complexity.”

“Principal Flautist Bridget Douglas, elevated behind the orchestra, under a single spotlight, played Debussy’s modern interpretation of an ancient Greek story, Syrinx. Douglas is an amazing musician and audience favourite. We were captivated.”

“Soprano Madeleine Pierard started to sing her narrative of the Finnish creation story. A demanding piece by all accounts but absolutely no trouble for Pierard. Her voice is stunning, and she made apparently light work of the difficult leaps and incredible range.”

“The evening finished as it had started, with a stage full of musicians expertly led by an expressive and expansive conductor. Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloe Suite No. 2 gave New the opportunity to have the last dance.”

NZ Herald wrote:

“It proved to be an exhilarating evening, with conductor Gemma New exploring the NZSO's seemingly limitless palette to produce one of my most satisfying town hall experiences this year.”

“Principal Flute Bridget Douglas, dramatically spotlit above the orchestra, effortlessly captured Debussy's languid nymph.”

Pierard was riveting. Her burnished soprano, with more than a hint of mezzo to it, riding the work's two octave range without any strain.”

Otago Daily Times

“The excellently devised programme centred on instilling a sense of joy into our lives. New has a distinctively balletic conducting style. Her pointed, focused precision, broadly encompassing gestures, musicality and poise envelope both orchestra and audience. She is rewarded with excellence and is a pure joy to watch.”

“The well-loved and transfixing solo flute melody of Debussy’s Syrinx was played exquisitely by Bridget Douglas from the choir stalls and under a sole spotlight. She received spontaneously warm applause.”

Luonnotar, by Sibelius, was powerfully sung by soprano Madeleine Pierard. Her voice has gained rich depths; her control and dramatic gravitas explored in retelling this compelling Finnish creation story created a mesmerising performance.”

“Gentle siren notes from the City of Dunedin Choir complemented a stellar display of cultural pride.”

Otago Daily Times wrote:

“In the expert hands of New and the NZSO, this stirring, evocative work received a truly worthy premiere.”

“Christchurch-born virtuoso violinist Morrison then joined the orchestra for a spellbinding performance of Britten’s emotionally complex and fiendishly difficult Violin Concerto.”

“With superb support from the orchestra, under New’s sensitive baton, he brought every emotion to the fore, and tackled the work’s many outrageously difficult passages with skill and flair. His handling of the extraordinary solo violin cadenza was astounding.”

“New made the most of the considerable forces at her disposal, inhabiting the music and physically urging the players to bring all of the passion and emotion of the symphony to the fore to exciting effect.”

“The concert was a feast of fabulous music-making, leaving its audience deeply satisfied.”

Otago Daily Times wrote:

“The hall was very full, with children and family groups, for this excellent orchestral celebration of John Williams’ (1932-) iconic film scores for many Spielberg box office triumphs.”

“The stage was crammed with instruments and musicians in casual attire, and their dynamic New Zealand-born principal conductor Gemma New compered from the rostrum.”

“For many young people, yesterday’s event may have been their first experience of watching a live orchestra and I am certain that memories were made that will endure for a lifetime.”