If you want to make it in the rough and tumble world of orchestral conducting, there's no such thing as a summer holiday.
Case in point, Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra music director, Gemma New.
You won't catch her soaking up rays on some sandy seashore, a cold Pina Colada in hand. You will, however, catch her on various podiums throughout the U.S.
The New Zealand-born New kicked off the summer conducting six pops concerts with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra where she's resident conductor. Her gig in the Gateway City also includes leading the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra. And there, too, she was busy this summer judging auditions for next season.
And that's not all. In mid-July, New stepped in on short notice to rehearse and lead the Grant Park Orchestra — HPO principal bassoonist Eric Hall plays in this summertime festival orchestra in the Windy City — in a concert that included Richard Strauss's "Symphonia domestica" and Beethoven's "Piano Concerto No. 2" when Australian conductor Simone Young had to fly back home due to a family emergency.
New also conducted the North Carolina Symphony in a concert of works by American composers. And she was in San Diego, during Comic-Con International, leading that city's symphony in an all-John Williams show. And for the first two weeks of August, she was assistant conductor to Cristian Macelaru at the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music in Santa Cruz, Calif.
When that festival ended, off she went to the Berkshire Hills in western Massachusetts as one of six participants in the conducting seminar at the Boston Symphony Orchestra's summertime Tanglewood Music Festival. There, she observed rehearsals and attended conducting classes, the stellar staff including Bramwell Tovey, a one-time guest conductor of The New Hamilton Orchestra back in March 1998.
New will be getting back to Hamilton to lead the HPO's inaugural Young Musicians' Boot Camp, a three-day affair from Aug. 22 to 24 at Mohawk College, supported by the Ontario Trillium Foundation.
Now, the words "young musicians' boot camp" may conjure up thoughts of waking up at 0300 to "Reveille" botched by a bungling bugler, followed by a 20-kilometre march to the beat of the snare drum tattoo in Shostakovich's "Leningrad Symphony."
But banish those thoughts on the double.
"This camp is going to be intensive, yet positive and supportive, and I hope it will be thoroughly inspiring for our young musicians," wrote New in an email to The Spectator. "The format is rather special in that the HPO musicians will be providing intensive sectionals and they will be sitting alongside the students during orchestra rehearsals and the showcase concert. We are also providing artistic development panels where we can collectively discuss practice techniques, audition techniques and career opportunities."
Some of the ideas for this boot camp came from New's experiences in master classes and youth orchestras in New Zealand as well as the "Side-by-Side" programs run by orchestras in St. Louis and New Jersey.
"The playing level and morale of the young musicians rises noticeably and significantly higher when they have been exposed to these types of programs," wrote New.