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29 Jun 2022
A conversation with conductor Gemma New
Investec are proud Premier Sponsors of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, having forged one of Liverpool’s oldest cultural partnerships.
As part of our sponsorship of the orchestra’s performance of Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto in June 2022, Director of Wealth Planning, Marion Reilly, chatted with conductor, New-Zealand born Gemma New, to find out more about her and her career.
Gemma is the newly appointed Artistic Advisor and Principal Conductor of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and holds the titles of Music Director of the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra and Principal Guest Conductor of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. Throughout her career, she has been committed to deepening the artistic level of the orchestra and expanding its reach into the community. Over the years she been known for her insightful interpretations of classic works and her dynamic presence.
Gemma New Interview Questions
We are excited for the performance of Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto. What is it that most excites you about that piece and equally what excites you about working with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra?
I am very excited about this performance with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and soloist Mao Fujita also! While the 2nd and 3rd movements act as perfect foils, it is the first movement of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 that is my favorite. With such a magnificent introduction, we are then swept off our feet into a passionate, fervent and imaginative fantasy. I am also really looking forward to joining the RLPO for the first time on this program that is so full of compelling and contrasting musical styles. To have Tchaikovsky and Schumann together, as well as recent works by Katherine Balch and Aaron Jay Kernis on the program, it is such a generous smorgasbord!
It seems extremely exciting that your work takes you across the world - but with all this travelling around, how do you stay grounded?
I’m grateful to have a lot of supportive family, friends and colleagues in my life, they help me tremendously with keeping grounded. Planning and preparation helps to keep things stress-free, and then I agree with the UK saying ‘keep calm and carry on’ when chaos hits.
With all that said, where do you feel most at home? Is it in your native New Zealand?
I’ve lived in the USA for 12 years now, and sunny San Diego is a wonderful place to call home. But it’s important to have home comforts on the road! If I can get a good cup of tea where I am I usually feel right at home.
For us at Investec, this is our first face to face event in a while. We’ve found many ways to engage with clients during this period but how did you keep performing during the pandemic?
Online digital content has come to the fore during the pandemic, and the technological advancements in orchestral video/audio recording has been very impressive. In a way the orchestra has become more accessible; these online projects can give us up close perspectives of the spoken introductions and musical performances of orchestras in school classrooms and our own living rooms. But for me there is absolutely nothing that replaces the energy and feeling of collectively experiencing a live performance in person. This period has starved me of this and I have a deeper appreciation of it now knowing it could be taken away.
At Investec we put great importance on belonging, inclusion and diversity in our culture. In your opinion, what are some of the challenges the classical music world faces in creating an inclusive community?
Music is the language of emotion, and has such profound multi-abilities to transform us; music can both unite us and give us personal introspectiveness, it can strengthen us and make us feel vulnerable, it can excite us and relax us. Orchestral music is also of so many different styles, time-periods, cultures and genres, there is truly something for everyone, and something for every day of our lives. With all this in mind, it seems important that absolutely everyone feels welcome coming into the concert hall, and this is something we work on by reaching out and building dialogues with as many people in our local communities as possible.
And finally, all of us at Investec would love to know: who is your favourite musician, whether in classical music or otherwise?
There are so many inspirational musicians! I am constantly in awe of the exquisite music making of my mentors and colleagues and I couldn’t possibly pick a thousand, let alone one! But if we are going for composers who are from a time before this time, I would say my favorite at the moment (and it changes often!) is Johannes Brahms. There’s something about his deep and natural sensibility, and his incredible contrasts of intense delicacy to beautiful power that I just can’t get enough of!