The St. Louis Symphony Orchestra has announced the appointment of resident conductor Gemma New, originally of New Zealand.
New, 29, will assist music director David Robertson, cover concerts led by him and guest conductors, serve as music director of the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra, and lead education and family concerts, community concerts and some Live at Powell Hall performances.
In a statement on Thursday, Robertson said New “stood out as a musician of great insight when we worked together a few years ago at Carnegie Hall. From the first moment in our audition, New opened a clear line of deep communication with our musicians, who responded to her clarity and passion. Her dedication to music education will be a true gift to the organization and the St. Louis community.”
She takes the position previously held by Steven Jarvi.
New started musical studies with the violin at age 5, adding piano at 8. She began conducting at 15, when she founded an orchestra at her high school.
“We were all young musicians learning the craft,” she said in an interview. “I knew from an early age that I loved orchestras; I wanted to be connected with orchestras for the rest of my life. When I had the first opportunity to conduct, I thought, ‘This is how I can express my musical voice.’”
She got her first conducting job at 19, leading a youth orchestra in New Zealand. New earned a violin performance degree and played in as many orchestras as she could. She earned her master’s degree in orchestral conducting at the Peabody Institute in Baltimore.
“I’ve taken every opportunity I can to learn and get better,” she said. She’s currently the music director of the Hamilton Philharmonic in Ontario, Canada; finishing her fifth and final year with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra; and founder and director of the contemporary music collective Lunar Ensemble in Baltimore.
She was a Dudamel Fellow with the Los Angeles Philharmonic (“I’ve learned a ton from that”), and the David A. Karetsky Conducting Fellow at the American Academy of Conducting at the Aspen Music Festival in 2013, and she worked with Kurt Masur in Leipzig, Germany, in 2014.
New will begin her position in St. Louis — which she calls “this amazing opportunity” — in September.
She is currently based in Miami, where her boyfriend, pianist John Wilson, is a fellow with the New World Symphony. Her first project for the SLSO is to program the music for the Youth Orchestra, family and education concerts for the 2016-17 season.
Sarah Bryan Miller • 314-340-8249 Classical music critic @sbmillermusic on Twitter firstname.lastname@example.org